People should consider wearing masks again in public spaces amid a summer surge of COVID cases, a professor of Public Health Systems has suggested.
Yesterday there were 776 hospital patients in Ireland who have tested positive for COVID-19 - up 25 since Tuesday. While 31 were being treated in ICU - up by three since the day before.
To Professor Anthony Staines, all the data suggests that people should start being more careful while out and about:
“This is an airborne virus,” he said.
“We know how to manage this; it is about vaccination and it is about ventilation, air filtration and wearing masks in crowded spaces.
“And I think more and more people are doing exactly what you’re doing [wearing a mask on public transport].
“None of these things is perfect. None of these things is completely protective but if you do a range of things you can reduce your risk quite noticeably and to a quite a useful level.
“And you can also reduce the risk that you’ll infect somebody else - that’s probably very important.”
Omicron Variant B4/5
According to the WHO, one reason for the increase in COVID cases in Ireland is that a new variant of Omicron is “dodging” the protection provided by the vaccine.
“There’s another surge happening,” Dr David Nabarro, the WHO's special envoy on COVID, told Newstalk.
“And this is probably due to Omicron Variant B4 or B5 and the irritating thing about it is that the virus does seem to be able to dodge the protection that is offered by the vaccines that we’ve all been taking.
“So you can get it even if you’ve been vaccinated.”
Such is the level of concern in official circles about the surge in cases that the Cabinet has approved a plan that would allow the Government to reintroduce a mask mandate if they feel it is needed.
Main image: People wearing face coverings on a Luas in Dublin in July 2020. Picture by: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo