Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

10.53 6 May 2020


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An immunology expert says he is now 'begging the Government' to change the guidelines and recommend the wearing of face masks in public.

It comes amid increasing calls for clarity and guidance for the public on face coverings as part of the phased reopening of the country in the coming weeks and months.

The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) has called for the compulsory wearing of masks for all commuters to protect staff and 'enhance customer confidence'.

Officials have indicated that the use of face coverings in the community will be part of the efforts to ease social distancing measures over the summer.

However, the public has not yet been advised by health officials to wear masks when out and about.

Luke O’Neill - Professor of Biochemistry at the School of Immunology at Trinity College Dublin - spoke to The Pat Kenny Show about why he believes people should be covering their faces while out shopping or on public transport.

Expert says he's now 'begging the Government' to change guidelines on face masks

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He said the situation regarding masks in Ireland remains “gob-smacking”

He observed: “I go into work at the moment, and I’m on the DART: nobody was wearing a mask.

“I went out to Tesco and got myself a sandwich for lunch: again, nobody was wearing a mask.”

Prof O’Neill noted that the evidence regarding mask-wearing has grown “stronger and stronger and stronger”.

He said: "The Royal Society, a very famous institution, issued a big report two days ago summarising the evidence… the best brains in the world say you have to wear a mask in a supermarket or on public transport.

“I’m begging the Government now to change the guidelines.”

He said it’s vital there are adequate supplies of protective equipment for healthcare workers and that the public is well-informed on how to use masks properly.

However, he stressed: “The evidence is clear: it helps decrease spread. It’s obvious in a way, isn’t it?

“I’m pretty sure the Government will change the guidelines on this - we hope so soon."

Prof O'Neill also stressed that people shouldn't feel awkward about wearing masks in public.

He suggested: "Don't worry about yourself - it's the other person you're protecting. That's the key thing."

Main image: File photo. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie

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