Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Department of Health
692. To ask the Minister for Health if he has given consideration to providing each household with a regular supply of face masks as has been done in many south-east Asian countries to reduce outbreaks of Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11475/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 691, 692 and 724 together.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) provided guidance in relation to face coverings in its advice to Government in relation to Phase 2 of the Roadmap for Reopening Business & Society on 4 June. The current public health advice in Ireland in relation to masks and face coverings is consistent with the recently updated WHO advice on this topic.
The NPHET advice sets out circumstances under which the wearing of a non-medical face covering is recommended. These are when using busy public transport, when in indoor public areas including retail outlets, by people visiting the homes of those who are cocooning, by people who are being visited in their homes by those who are cocooning, all visitors to residential care facilities and in indoor work environments where it is difficult to maintain 2 metre distance.
The wearing of face coverings in other environments should accommodate individual judgement or preference, or where it is difficult to maintain a 2-metre distance.
The current Government advice on face coverings and how to make, care and wear face coverings at home is available on the Government website at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/aac74c-guidance-on-safe-use-of-face-coverings/. It is also available on the Health Service Executive website at . There are currently no plans to distribute face masks in the manner described.
The NPHET advice emphasises that the wearing of face coverings is an additional hygiene measure and should not take the place of good hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and other personal protective public health measures. It also emphasises that it is important to use face coverings properly, in line with the guidance and wash your hands before putting them on and taking them off.
This advice is kept under review by the NPHET on a continuing basis.