Members of Regional Group asking for consideration of cloth face coverings to control community spread of Covid-19

In Health, News by Denis Naughten

On reviewing the evolving medical evidence regarding modes of transmission of coronavirus, the regional group of independents which has 2 members with experience in infection control systems is asking government and the National Public Health Emergency Team to immediately consider initiatives for cloth faced coverings to be worn in public and work areas. Simple cloth face coverings can slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.

Countries in Asia as well as Austria, Slovakia and Hungary have adopted cloth face masks as an additional defence measure in disease transmission spread. The latest reports from the US CDC, Centre for Disease Control shows that many people with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity, for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing, even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain such as shopping for grocery and pharmacy and particularly in areas of significant community based transmission. It is critical that we continue to observe 2 meter social distancing but it appears we need more proactive and proven measures to prevent cough and sneeze droplet spread.

The Regional Group believes Cloth face coverings fashioned from common materials as are being done in other countries at present can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure. We would hope that the recent ‘Community Call’ initiative announced by government could immediately take a leading role here in providing mask templates and designs for people to copy and manufacture at home or in small businesses. We believe cloth masks may well offer a solution also in coming weeks to allow some numbers of people rejoin work activity while continuing to observe social distance and hygiene protection measures.

We would emphasise that these clothes masks are not the respirators or ventilator type that are used to protect health care workers and these important mask protectors must be reserved for our frontline healthcare workers and medical first responders who are at most serious risk. We have no doubt that the continuing community participation of the Irish people in observing COVID-19 quarantine measures can be directed to provide significant impetus for community manufacture and delivery of this extra protection measure and we would ask government to approve a supporting position as soon as possible to energize and deliver this initiative.

Supported by regional independents, Cathal Berry, Peter Fitzpatick, Noel Grealish, Michael Lowry, Denis Naughten, Matt Shanahan,

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