'Not anticipating' masks will be made mandatory, says CMO

'Not anticipating' masks will be made mandatory, says CMO

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) meets this morning to discuss if now is the time to recommend wearing masks in public for Covid-19.

It is expected they will issue formal guidance shortly on when people should start wearing facial coverings and how they should find, make and use them.

The death toll from the virus stands at 1,467, after a further 15 patients died while there are now 23,135 confirmed cases.

Chief medical officer Tony Holohan says any recommendation on the wearing of masks would be optional.

"We will give formal consideration to that but I'm not anticipating that we will be making it mandatory," said Dr Holohan.

"...From what we've seen so far in terms of public behaviours (albeit some different data in terms of hand washing), the levels of compliance in terms of the basic public health message is very high.

"I am confident that if we make a recommendation that we will get good levels of compliance."

The new Oireachtas Covid-19 committee will meet today for the first time.

Its 19 members will aim to scrutinise the actions of the Government and other authorities in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Today's sitting will involve the election of a chairperson and a programme of work will be established.

Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness is among the candidates seeking to become chairman.

"This committee was agreed by the Oireachtas and it has been put in place while we are waiting for the Government to be formed," said Mr McGuinness.

"Today's work of electing a chairperson is the first step in a number of meetings that will try to provide that transparency and accountability that's not there at present."

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