Masks not a 'silver bullet' to end virus - WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the widespread use of masks by the public will not stop the coronavirus pandemic.

The WHO recommends they be used in the community by people who are sick or their carers.

It also says they should be considered in countries that live in cramped conditions or have a lack of water to clean their hands.

But WHO director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus says they are not a 'silver bullet' to ending the virus.

"We know that medical masks can help to protect health workers but they are in short supply globally," WHO director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus said.

"We are concerned that the mass use of medical masks by the general population could exacerbate the shortage of these specialised masks for the people who need them most.

"This shortage is putting health workers in real danger."

Mr Ghebreyesus responded to scientists who had called on Africa to be a testing ground for a coronavirus vaccine descibing them as racist.

Two French doctors called for Africa to be a testing ground for a vaccine because the people there are highly exposed.

"When we need solidarity, these kind of racist remarks do not help.

"Africa is not and will not be a testing ground for any vaccine.

"It was a disgrace and appalling to hear in the 21st century that kind of remark from scientists."

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;
  • GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.
  • ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024