Experts have issued fresh guidance involving a “stay at home” message and face masks to help deal with high levels of winter infections including flu, Covid-19 and invasive Strep A disease.

The guidance comes as people across the UK return to work following the Christmas holiday and children return to school with high infection rates.

According to new data, the number of hospital patients with flu symptoms in England has “skyrocketed”, reports ITV News.

Prof Susan Hopkins, the chief medical adviser at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said it is “important” to minimise the spread of infections as pupils return to school.

She said: “If your child is unwell and has a fever, they should stay home from school or nursery until they feel better and the fever has resolved.

“Adults should also try to stay home when unwell and if you do have to go out, wear a face covering.”

NHS pressure ‘intolerable and unsustainable’

It comes as medics warned the pressure on the NHS is “intolerable and unsustainable” amid warnings that the deaths of up to 500 people each week could be caused by delays in emergency care.

Professor Phil Banfield, chair of the British Medical Association (BMA) council, hit out at both the Prime Minister and the Health Secretary as he offered a stark warning about the scale of the crisis facing healthcare workers.

“The current situation in the NHS is intolerable and unsustainable, both for our patients and the hard-working staff desperately trying to keep up with incredibly high levels of demand,” he said.

“The BMA has repeatedly invited the Government to sit down and talk about the pressures on our health service, but their silence is deafening.

“It is disingenuous for the Prime Minister to talk about ‘backing the NHS’ in his New Year message when his own Health Secretary is failing to discuss how this crisis can be fixed.”