Scots could be asked to wear medical grade face coverings to protect them from fast-spreading strains of Covid-19.

The policy is being “actively explored” by the Scottish Government, in line with other countries including Germany where the rules are changing.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney revealed the possible new measure, suggesting Scots could have to wear so-called FFP coverings instead of cloth ones.

"We’ve got to make sure we take the most effective measures to suppress the virus and be advised about the clinical value of particular steps to take,” he said.

"The question about the higher grade face covering is one that is being actively explored within government today."

Swinney confirmed the discussions on Sunday. Former UK health chief Jeremy Hunt has also added his voice to those of disease experts calling for higher grade masks to be compulsory.

Some epidemiologists fear that cloth masks, which are often home made, are not sufficient to deal with the new strains of Covid-19.

Trisha Greenhalgh, a professor of primary care at the University of Oxford, said “the context has changed” over the course of the pandemic and everyone should be wearing medical-grade coverings.

Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie had earlier urged the SNP Government to toughen up the public health measure by brining in “filtering face pieces” which would replace cloth coverings in widespread use across shops and public transport.

Germany has already taken steps to make it illegal not to wear FFP masks in shops, workplaces, trains and buses.