Negative Covid tests and mask use will be mandatory in nursing homes, hospitals, outpatient clinics, dentists, and facilities for vulnerable groups, a meeting of the Covid-19 scientific advisory committee with Health Minister Popi Kanari decided on Wednesday.

The measures are set to be ratified at an upcoming cabinet meeting on Thursday.

They are in response to rising case numbers and hospitalisations although they fall short of rumoured moves which foresaw the use of masks on public transport.

Experts said the Omicron 2 sub-strains, most notably JN.1, have now reached outbreak status.

Those at the meeting decided a negative rapid or PCR tests taken within 48 hours will be mandatory to visit nursing comes, hospitals, outpatient clinics, dentists and any closed facilities taking care of vulnerable groups. The rules apply to anyone over the age of 12.

Employees in the same premises such as care homes, hospitals or anywhere with elderly and other vulnerable groups will have to wear masks, as will visitors over the age of 12.

The two measures will be formalised in a cabinet decision on Thursday however the scientific advisory committee also recommended mandatory masks for all positive cases and vaccinations for all employees working with vulnerable groups and elderly, such as care home workers.