NPHET meeting expected to consider proposals on increased mask wearing
"Avoiding lockdown at all costs would be the right way to go at this point in time."
A meeting of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) on Thursday (25 November) is expected to consider proposals regarding increased mask-wearing, according to reports.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Ronan Glynn had previously said the public health officials will be examining new data regarding the Covid situation in Ireland at the meeting.
However, RTÉ News reports that NPHET is also set to discuss the possibility of introducing mask-wearing at outdoor events and in primary schools.
Speaking to RTÉ's Morning Ireland on Thursday, NPHET member Prof Mary Horgan said she hoped Ireland could avoid another lockdown after the recent spike in Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations.
"A lockdown is just a blunt instrument and it's really the last resort," she explained.
"We have developed loads of tools that we need to effectively use to avoid a lockdown and the current situation in hospitals is steady, it's not increasing.
"What we would really like to see is that declining, so going from a steady state to declining over the next week or so.
"So, avoiding lockdown at all costs would be the right way to go at this point in time but it's always a bit uncertain and unpredictable.
"We just need to watch things very, very closely."
Horgan was also asked about the high incidence of Covid-19 amongst primary school pupils and if now was the time to consider a requirement for the cohort to wear face coverings.
"We know for the past few months that the incidence of infection in primary school children is higher than the rest of the population, probably for two reasons," she explained.
"Firstly, they are a group that haven't been vaccinated... and secondly they don't use masks."
While highlighting that it is difficult for younger children to wear masks, she said it may be time to consider such a move to help reduce Covid infections.
Meanwhile, last week, HSE Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry called on the public to wear masks in congregated outdoor settings, such as sporting events.
"We'd ask anyone attending congregated outdoor settings as well to wear the masks to reduce the possibility of the virus transmitting from you, unwittingly from yourself if you're asymptomatic, to somebody else," he advised.