Compulsory mask wearing will “probably” be brought back in the autumn in order to curb the spread of COVID-19, a consultant doctor at Beaumont Hospital has warned.
Ireland is currently in the midst of a summer surge of COVID-19 cases with 967 people in hospital with the virus according to the latest official figures - up from 856 (13%) at the same time last week.
“Respiratory viruses should be met with an increase in masking,” Dr Bill Tormey explained.
“Because the only thing that actually helps in these circumstances is masking in the population.
“Assuming that we aren’t going to go into any mad lockdown again because I think that would be a very, very bad idea socially and from the point of view of the country in general.
“But I think masking is something that we can anticipate will probably be needed in the autumn.”
Across the world countries have cut back on their testing capability since the peak of the pandemic and Dr Tormey has said it means it is hard to gauge the exact number of COVID cases:
“We’re only doing a certain number of PCRs and the number of positive PCRs on people who might have COVID has soared up to about 36% or more,” he continued.
“That goes to show you that there’s a lot of COVID in the community.
“There are not that many in ICU at the same time - there’s only 46 the last time I looked for people in ICU despite a thousand people infected and of those infected 75% of them are older than 65 years of age.”
Last week Taoiseach Micheál Martin said coronavirus “remains a significant disruptive influence” in Ireland and said getting vaccinated was key to keeping the disease under control:
"What I would really say to people is: vaccination,” Mr Martin told RTÉ.
“We know from when we began to come out of the emergency phase of COVID, it is when we got really critical mass vaccinations into people’s arms.
"For example, there are quite a number of people who are immuno-suppressed [and] still have not taken their second booster and they should. They should get it."
Main image: People wearing face coverings on a Luas tram in Dublin in July 2020. Picture by: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo