THE public are now being officially asked to wear face coverings while in “enclosed spaces” such as shops, if possible.
Having been anticipated in recent weeks, the recommendation was made by Health Minster Robin Swann following an Executive meeting last Thursday. However, Minister Swann stressed the use of masks should in “no way reduce the need for social distancing or regular handwashing” or give people a false sense of security.
“It is agreed that we recommend that members of the public consider the use of face coverings for short periods in enclosed spaces, where social distancing is not possible,” said Minsiter Swann.
“While evidence on the overall protection provided by face coverings is not conclusive, on balance it is sufficient to recommend that members of the public consider using them in particular circumstances. In practice, these circumstances will largely relate to public transport and retail environments.”
He added: “Their use will not be mandatory. Crucially, face coverings must not lead to any false sense of security about the level of protection provided.
“It is essential that everyone continues to practice social distancing as much as humanly possible, wash their hands thoroughly throughout the day and ‘catch it, kill it, bin it’ when they sneeze or cough. That’s still the best way to protect yourself and others from Covid-19.”
Minister Swann’s advice echoes that of local doctors here in Fermanagh.
Speaking to the Herald last week GP Dr Brendan O’Hare said: “They offer some level of protection for the wearer against picking up the virus. If you have if silently, or with no symptoms, it may be that it will prevent it spreading it to others.
“The evidence is not that strong either way. Certainly, the hand hygiene is more important.”
Dr O’Hare added it was important that any public use of face masks did not diminish the supply needed for our frontline health workers.
To read more.. Subscribe to current edition