Public may be advised to wear face coverings, says Varadkar

Government is considering updating advice on face masks this week, suggests Taoiseach

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Government Buildings, Dublin. Photograph: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA Wire

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Government Buildings, Dublin. Photograph: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA Wire

 

The public may be advised to wear face coverings in places where social distancing guidelines must be adhered to, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has indicated.

Speaking on Wednesday morning, he said that the Government is considering changing its advice to the public on the issue and suggested this may be done by the end of the week.

“On the issue of face coverings and I’m going to say face coverings instead of face masks because we want to make sure that face masks are preserved and protected for our healthcare staff and those who need us the most, but the issue of advising people to wear face coverings is under consideration at the moment,” he said.

“We are seeing what’s happening in other countries, certainly, but the science on this is equivocal. Some people will say it’s a good idea. Some people say it doesn’t make a difference. Some people say it’s a bad idea. So it’s not one of those straightforward decisions where the science tells you it’s the right thing to do or the wrong thing to do.

“But there certainly is trend across the developed world to advise the public to wear face coverings in places where social distancing is difficult.”

Mr Varadkar said this may be on public transport or in an enclosed indoor space.

“We aware of what’s happening in Scotland and what’s happening in other countries in Europe, so that is another consideration. I think we will be in a position to offer revised advice the Irish public later in the week.

“But because the science is so uncertain on this, because there isn’t agreement in the scientific community on this, it is not something we’d ever make compulsory, but it’s something that we may make advisory.”

The deaths of another 59 patients diagnosed with Covid-19 were reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) at a briefing on Tuesday, of which 45 were laboratory-confirmed.

The deaths occurred on 10 different days in the past fortnight, though most were in the last three days. There have now been 1,159 Covid-19 related deaths in the Republic.

NPHET also reported 229 new confirmed cases. The total number of confirmed cases in the State now stands at 19,877.