The state’s public health team has raised the possibility of greater use of high-grade respirator masks, advising the government that they can better protect those at high risk from COVID-19.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has advised that people may choose to wear FFP3 and slightly lower grade FFP2 respirator or medical masks instead of cloth masks, but refrain from recommending high-grade masks to the public. Gave. instead of clothes.
The new discretionary advice on respirators and medical masks comes after Health Minister Stephen Donnelly asked state chief medical officer Tony Hollohan over Christmas whether these masks should be preferred over the cloth variety due to the rise in Omicron infections.
He asked Dr Holohan to reconsider the decision by state health service watchdog Hika just before Christmas not to recommend high-grade masks for vulnerable groups.
The state’s use of high-grade masks lags behind other countries such as Germany, Austria and Italy, which have introduced the use of FFP2 or equivalent masks in public places.
Nphet acknowledged in his response to the minister that medical and respiratory masks, if worn properly, would provide greater protection than cloth masks, but emphasized that all guidance to the public should be made clear that clothing All types of masks including reduce transmission.
Nphet has advised that a respirator or medical mask instead of a cloth mask should ideally be worn by someone who is a confirmed case of being infectious, has Covid-19 symptoms, is a household contact with a case or who is going into healthcare. or a weak person
|confirmed cases in hospital||confirmed cases in ICU|
The advice to the minister comes with a recommendation that HSEs should develop targeted communication so as to provide a clear message on face masks to the public.
Nphet said that medically vulnerable or older people who are already advised to wear medical masks in crowded places may prefer to wear high-grade respirator masks.
It stressed that priority should be given to respirators and medical masks for healthcare workers.
Aoife McElysag, Professor of Genetics at Trinity College Dublin, said the greater use of FFP2 masks could help reduce infection, protect vulnerable people and prevent transmission on public transport.
“A clear message from the government that not all masks are equal would be really welcome and a start,” she said.
Separately, it is expected that the cabinet may as soon as tomorrow consider easing the requirement for healthcare workers who are close contacts of Covid-19 cases to ease the pressure on the workforce .
The European Center for Disease Control (ECDC) has issued a new advisory for countries facing extreme stress on their health care systems.
Dr Holohan and senior Nuffet figures are understood to be considering advice from the ECDC, which is likely to go to ministers on Wednesday.
A health source said he did not expect any widespread relaxation of isolation rules for close contact between the public before the current Omicron wave of infections.
Taoiseach Michael Martin said the latest wave is not expected to peak for at least another seven days or a fortnight – later ministers estimated last week.
Mr Martin on Monday refused to introduce compulsory vaccination against the disease, favoring voluntary vaccination instead. On the current restrictions, Mr Martin said he was aware of the impact of the 8 p.m. shutdown on the hospitality sector, but there was no immediate easing of the cut-off time.
23,909 more infections were recorded on Monday, taking the total infections recorded during the pandemic to over one million.
The number of people in hospital broke the 1,000 mark yesterday for the first time since last February, an increase of 79 on the previous day to reach 1,063. This includes 89 people in intensive care, an increase of six.