Staff at Portlaoise hospital in PPE equipment
A Portlaoise resident who sits on the Government's Covid-19 Expert Advice Group (EAG) advised that masks should be made compulsory to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Damian Nee, sits ont the EAG to give the perspective of the public on the outbreak and response. He has also been actively involved in helping to supply hospitals with the personal protective equipment which has been mandated in some countries.
“We have been fortunate to curtail the spread of Covid-19 by the actions of the EAG, National Public Health Emergency Team, Department of Health, HSE and the Government. Let's not fail now.
“Over the last 10 days, there has been a huge growth in people movement, especially in shops, not even 2-3% are wearing masks, little respect for social distancing.
“The loose advise to 'recommend' wearing of face coverings has been totally disregarded.
“The EAG preferred the wearing of medical masks. Nphet as confirmed in the Irish Times last week, chose not to suggest medical masks based on supply issues nor made any provision for a change when supply volume permitted,” he said.
Mr Nee said most parts of Germany, Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic say masks must be worn in shops and on public transport.
Italy says masks should be worn in shops and on transport but in public too where it is hard to maintain a safe distance.
In Spain, he said the new rules do not establish specific sanctions for those who refuse to wear a mask.
Mr Nee believes we must follow other countries.
“The complacency shown by the public demands strong, immediate action or supermarkets and other shops will become centres for community spread in a fashion that the health service will have difficulty coping and will set the country back many months.
“Meat factories have shown the capacity for spread, are shop workers any different, many also live together ?.
Mr Nee said people going to shops and shopkeepers have duty.
“It is now internationally accepted that masks give an 80% better chance of limiting spread in shops and enclosed spaces.
“No sensible person ought enter a shop where everyone is not wearing a medical mask , shops owe it to their staff and customers to take this matter seriously. It may well be a matter of life or death,” he said.