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22 Jan 2022

EXPLAINER: Who must wear FFP2 Covid-19 masks and how to wear?

Dr Tony Holohan outlines who should wear the masks and why.

 EXPLAINER: Who must wear FFP2 Covid-19 masks and how to wear?

Covid-19 FF2 masks

FFP2 medical grade masks are now recommended for certain groups according to Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health.

He says it is important to note that the latest public health advice around self-isolation and restriction of movement places an increased emphasis on the use by cases and close contacts of higher-grade face masks, as opposed to cloth masks.

FFP2 masks are defined as being composed of three layers of synthetic non-woven materials, available in different thicknesses, with the inclusion of filtration layers between.

However, there is a shortage of FFP2 masks in the country, their retail price is also not regulated. The average price can be €2-€5 for one mask. Most Leitrim pharmacies have a small stock of these masks, but many said their stock is weaning and they are finding it difficult to source quantaties at a reasonable price.

The head of NPHET says it is now recommended that medical grade or FFP2 masks are used by:  

- Anyone 13 years and older who is a confirmed case, a close contact or who has symptoms suggestive of COVID-19

- Over 60s and vulnerable people of all ages in indoor or crowded outdoor places 

- Anyone visiting a healthcare setting or when visiting those who are vulnerable to COVID-19 in any setting 

Dr Holohan continued in the NPHET statement issued on January 13.

“Masks can play a key role in reducing transmission of COVID-19 if made correctly, well fitted and worn properly – that is they cover the nose, mouth and chin. 

 “By layering up on the basic public health measures, including vaccination, we can reduce the spread of COVID-19 and continue to protect ourselves and our loved ones from infection. Continue to practise social distancing and good hand hygiene, work from home unless necessary to attend, avoid crowds and ensure indoor spaces and public transport are ventilated (open windows),” he said.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has published the following leaflet to guide people on the correct usage of FFP2 masks.

Dr Holohan added that other protective measures including strict limiting of social contacts are also advised for the full 10 days following a confirmed COVID-19 infection or close contact.

"These combined measures are intended to offset any increase in risk of transmission that may result from the reduction and or removal of the requirement to self-isolate or restrict movements," he said.

 

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