Wondering if you should be wearing a face mask in public?
The National Public Health Emergency Team will meet this morning to discuss whether encouraging the Irish public to wear face masks could help to protect against a surge in coronavirus cases.
There were 139 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in Ireland yesterday and a further 15 people died from the disease. While the figures are encouraging, preventing a second wave of the disease as Ireland prepares to reopen is set to be a challenging task.
As the UK begins to restart its economy this week, the government’s ‘Our Plan to Rebuild’ document advises wearing face coverings in some situations. The guide recommends that people should “wear a face-covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible and they come into contact with others that they do not normally meet, for example on public transport or in some shops.”
According to the World Health Organisation, if you are healthy, “you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with COVID-19” or if you are coughing and sneezing.
Still, France, Germany, Lithuania, Austria, Slovakia and Bulgaria are all now encouraging citizens to wear a face mask in public.
According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, “the use of face masks in public may serve as a means of source control to reduce the spread of the infection in the community by minimising the excretion of respiratory droplets from infected individuals who have not yet developed symptoms or who remain asymptomatic.”
The ECDC says the use of face masks in the community could be considered, “especially when visiting busy, closed spaces, such as grocery stores, shopping centres, or when using public transport, etc.”
43% of people believe the worst is over
According to new research, 43% of people in Ireland believe that the worst of the coronavirus threat has passed, a misinterpretation of the facts that has left Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan worried.
Speaking at Monday’s Covid-19 briefing, Dr Holohan said complacency could increase the risk of a surge in coronavirus cases and a second wave that could potentially be worse than the first.
“43p is quite a high percentage of people who believe that this is over and the work is done here,” Dr Holohan said.
“If we get it wrong as we begin to ease restrictions – and we’re hoping that we’re moving towards a point at which we’d be able to do that – and we see the reproductive number of the infection rising to a level which is beyond what we think we can deal with and we can cope with, we could have a significant challenge with this that’s every bit as great as the challenge we might have had had we not gotten this as controlled as we did over the course of the last two months.” Dr Holohan added.