Nurses organisation calls for the return of mandatory mask wearing in indoor settings
The INMO is also calling for the curtailment of all non-emergency, elective care.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has called on the Government to reintroduce mandatory mask-wearing in crowded and indoor settings.
It comes after the HSE revealed on Monday that it had been notified of over 64,000 positive Covid tests since Saint Patrick's Day.
There has also been a reported rise in Covid test positive levels, while the INMO has said the number of patients on trolleys is at its highest since the beginning of the pandemic.
On Tuesday (22 March), 660 patients are without a bed in Irish hospitals.
660 patients are on trolleys today coupled with thousands of patients in hospital with COVID-19
We are calling for:
😷Masks to be introduced in indoor and crowded settings
🏥For the Minister for Health to declare a national emergency in our hospitals
👉 https://t.co/vkcmffF91i pic.twitter.com/mvt7Kfg6wg
— Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation (@INMO_IRL) March 22, 2022
General Secretary of the organisation Phil Ní Sheaghdha told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that while hospitals are always under pressure after a bank holiday, its members were also reporting that the level of Covid in hospitals is "very high".
"That puts additional pressure on an already very very busy, overcrowded system and this is leading to a lot of unsafe practices now," she explained.
"There is a tremendous pressure now to find spaces for patients and that is leading to decisions being made that are simply unsafe."
She also said that the number of people complying with current non-mandatory public health advice on mask-wearing needs to be higher as hospitals do not have the capacity for "any little increase in attendance".
"When there is a small increase in the community, when that translates to hospital admissions, the hospitals simply do not cope and that then translates to unfit care."
On top of the return of mask-wearing in certain settings, Ní Sheaghdha also called for the curtailment of all non-emergency, elective care.
"Right now, we cannot continue with elective care," she said.
"We just can't because we don't have enough room in our hospitals and the practice of nursing people with Covid... with those who don't is very, very dangerous.
"We saw the hospital-acquired infection from Covid increase significantly over the past number of weeks.
"Our hospitals are becoming reservoirs for Covid."
Also speaking on Tuesday, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that the Government does not anticipate reimposing Covid restrictions.
However, he did state a paring back or deferring of elective activities may be necessary.