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16 Aug 2022

No planned return of face mask use despite 'concern' of rising Covid-19 cases

No planned return of face mask use despite 'concern' of rising Covid-19 cases

Mandatory mask-wearing will only be introduced if the “situation gets worse” in relation to Covid numbers, the HSE’s chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry has said.

There were calls this week by the INMO for the return of mask wearing in certain public settings. 

It was also reported in the Irish Examiner that HSE chief Paul Reid is considering making a recommendation to government for the return of masks in certain setting. 

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show, Dr Henry admitted the HSE is “very concerned” at the rise in cases in recent weeks which was largely driven by the sub variants BA4 and BA5.

However, he said he was reassured that the number of cases in ICU had remained steady at 23, despite a rise in hospital numbers.

While 70 per cent of the cases at present were of the new more transmissible variants, he predicted that numbers will begin to decline within a few weeks as had happened in Portugal where numbers are now beginning to drop, once the peak had passed.

Dr Henry said the sub type variants enjoys a "growth advantage" over previous sub types and is now displacing it here in Ireland. 

However, while this strain is more transmissible, fortunately it appears not to be more "aggressive as an illness", Dr Henry said.

The “harsh reality", Dr Henry said, was that of the 606 cases in hospital at present, half had not received a booster and over one third "hadn't even got vaccinated in the first place".

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