The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has welcomed a change in national policy, which now mandates facemasks in all settings for any healthcare workers who provide care within two metres of a patient.
It also applies to any of their colleagues who come within two metres for more than 15 minutes.
In practice, the INMO says this will mean nearly all frontline healthcare workers will wear facemasks.
Until now, many parts of the health service did not require or permit staff in all areas to wear this basic form of PPE.
The INMO wrote to the Chief Clinical Officer on April 3 calling for this new measure to be rolled out, and has repeatedly made the case for it to become national policy.
Several hospitals, including the largest hospital, St. James’ Hospital, have already rolled out such a policy.
INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said: “This is welcome news to frontline staff and patients, which should ease some anxiety and reduce transmission of the virus.
“This should have been rolled out weeks ago, but we are glad to have finally secured this measure. It will not only benefit frontline healthcare workers, but will reduce the risk of transmission to patients.
“The next step must be ensuring sufficient supplies are available for all health workers, and continuous PPE training where needed.”