People should wear face masks outdoors in order to curb the spread of the new strain of coronavirus, experts claim.
They say the extra precaution could help reduce infections amid a UK rise in Covid-19 cases.
Professor Mike Griffin, President of the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh, said it could help stop the NHS becoming overwhelmed, the Daily Record reports.
He is among top medics in Scotland who are backing the call for maximum precautions following the relaxation of household mixing rules on Christmas Day.
Prof Griffin said the new variant of Covid, which was first spotted in Kent, had "changed" their thinking on all of this.
He added: "It would be crazy not to take every possible opportunity of minimising transmission during January.
"Masks have been shown to be efficacious in preventing spread and therefore it should not be just indoors – it should be outdoors as well.
"It is a small price to pay for this next month or two.
"We do not want our hospitals overwhelmed.”
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He warned Scottish hospitals could soon end up like those in the south of England and in Wales, although Scotland is "coping at this stage”.
But he said it is crucial people continue to keep levels of infections down so hospitals and the health service can concentrate on rolling out the vaccine.
He said: "Let's not have healthcare workers redeployed to look after people in intensive care and Covid wards.
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"We also need to continue with the rapid testing programme, and we need to be able to provide emergency care – not just to Covid patients, but the non-Covid patients.
"We understand that there's no difference to the illness that an individual patient will suffer [from the new variants], but all you need to do is think about the mathematics.
"If it is more transmissible, it will infect more people, and if more people are infected more hospital admissions will occur and if more hospital admissions occur, there will be more intensive care admissions, and more deaths."
The Scottish Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties has also called on the public not to let their guard down.
A spokesperson said: "We risk facing a perfect storm of challenges if we don't take collective action now to prevent further spread of Covid-19.
"We are calling for social distancing to be two metres at all times and for masks to be worn in any situation where you are meeting people who are not in your household or bubble – indoors or outdoors.
"All other potential measures to decrease community transmission should be considered by the Government."
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