A SALISBURY mum-of-four, whose son fell ill with suspected Covid-19 earlier this year, is encouraging everyone to use a mask.

Jessica McCarnun, who runs a coronavirus research group, has been wearing face coverings since the start of the pandemic.

Having seen first-hand the effects of the disease, she's urging others to "take the virus seriously" and do all they can to stop the spread.

"My son became very ill in early March and that's when as a family we locked down for four weeks," she explained.

"[During the pandemic] I went out to help people with their shopping and I got to see the true picture of Covid-19.

"It's been really difficult for people in our city."

When her son Rowan, 12, developed coronavirus symptoms, the 40-year-old enforced a mini lockdown in her home in Old Sarum to protect herself and her three daughters.

As Rowan self-isolated in his room, everyone in the house started wearing masks, inside and outside.

She said: "I recognised the symptoms and contacted the school and I was told there was one child who was self-isolating.

"He was really quite poorly, he had a sore throat, a shooting pain in his neck and ears, diarrhoea....

"He's okay now but it took him a good four to five weeks to get back to himself.

"He was very tired, he lost weight, suffered from exhaustion. Emotionally, there was a big change but he's slowly getting back to how he was before."

Before face coverings became compulsory in shops and supermarkets - and places such as churches, cinemas and museums from August 8 - the mum-of-four said she was subjected to abuse but added: "that didn't stop me".

Commenting on the change in legislation, she said: "It's amazing that people have to wear [masks] in stores but what concerns me is, I see a lot people wearing them around their neck or below their nose, putting them off and on without cleaning their hands.

"All that does is increase the risk of cross-contamination and people don't know if they're asymptomatic."

In the past few weeks, Jessica has been raising awareness of the correct use of face coverings.

She's encouraging others to wash or sanitise their hands before and after removing masks, bring spare ones with them if they are visiting several stores and discard of them properly, by putting them in a sealed sandwich bag rather than in our own bags or pockets.

"I've been telling my kids that it's as dirty as a toilet. I know it's scientifically incorrect, however, it's a good mindset.

"We've all got to strive to do what we can to support each other, it's our duty to work together to win this silent war."