'Masks can play a key role reducing Covid transmission'

1,011 COVID-19 patients currently hospitalised nationally, 92 of whom are in ICU.

“Masks can play a key role in reducing transmission of COVID-19 if made correctly, well fitted and worn properly – that is they cover the nose, mouth and chin,” says Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, after almost 19,000 new cases were confirmed yesterday.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre were notified on Thursday of 18,904 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 1,011 COVID-19 patients currently hospitalised, 92 of whom are in ICU.

Dr Holohan said: “It is important to note that the latest public health advice around self-isolation and restriction of movement places an increased emphasis on the use by cases and close contacts of higher-grade face masks, as opposed to cloth masks”

He says that other “protective measures” including strict limiting of social contacts are also advised for the full 10 days following a confirmed COVID-19 infection or close contact.

“These combined measures are intended to offset any increase in risk of transmission that may result from the reduction and or removal of the requirement to self-isolate or restrict movements.”

It is now recommended that medical grade or FFP2 masks are used by anyone 13 years and older who is a confirmed case, a close contact or who has symptoms suggestive of COVID-19.

Over 60s and vulnerable people of all ages meanwhile are being advised to wear masks in indoor or crowded outdoor places, as is anyone visiting a healthcare setting or when visiting those who are vulnerable to COVID-19 in any setting.

“By layering up on the basic public health measures, including vaccination, we can reduce the spread of COVID-19 and continue to protect ourselves and our loved ones from infection. Continue to practise social distancing and good hand hygiene, work from home unless necessary to attend, avoid crowds and ensure indoor spaces and public transport are ventilated,” said Dr Holohan.