Local TD Malcolm Noonan has questioned Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on the use of cloth face masks to help suppress the Coronavirus.
Speaking in the Dáil, the Green Party TD questioned why other countries were making the wearing of masks mandatory and why government was not heeding the advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the issue of masks to reduce infection from Covid in the community.
"This week the German Government will begin lifting restrictions and central to that plan will be the use of masks in public. I was disappointed that the Taoiseach responded by claiming that the widespread use of masks would be a draw on resources for frontline workers when in fact I was referring to homemade cotton masks," said Deputy Noonan.
In his address to the Dáil, Deputy Noonan made reference to the network of ‘sewists’ who were making homemade masks for frontline workers and the wider community under the banner of ‘Sewists against Covid-19’.
"An amazing network of volunteer sewists has sprung up over recent weeks, making thousands of masks, indeed some are based here in Kilkenny," he said.
"There is a growing spectrum of opinion from epidimiologists that masks have an important role to play in suppressing infection and in helping the gradual easing of restrictions in countries that have successfully reduced the rate of spread of the disease within the community."
He said that there will be successive waves of infection across the community and until such a time as a vaccine can be made available that countries needed to try to get on with a new normal, open businesses and schools with the backup of increased testing and contact tracing.
"The EU Centre for Disease Control advises the use of simple cloth masks to reduce spread particularly from people who may be infected but are asymptomatic. I was disappointed with the Taoiseach’s response and I would call once again for a definitive direction to the public on this.
"I do not think that it will impact on the availability of PPE for frontline workers, rather it can spread a ‘meitheal’ in mass community making of cotton masks among ICA groups, men’s sheds and other groups and will afford us all a sense of purpose that we are contributing to minimising the impact of Covid in the community," said Deputy Noonan.
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