Visitors to nursing homes are being encouraged to continue to wear a facemask amid a “concerning increase” in Covid-19 outbreaks.
Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) said there are 320 outbreaks open in nursing homes this week, with 43 new outbreaks reported in the last week alone.
It comes as the legal requirement to wear a mask in certain settings will lift from February 28th, although masks will still be advised on public transport and in healthcare settings.
NHI chief executive Tadhg Daly said nursing homes are reporting the virus is once again “proving extremely transmissible once within the setting.”
“Nursing home residents are amongst our most frail and it is prudent to do what we can within society to protect such people while cases are at such high numbers,” he said.
“With such a virulent virus presenting, there is a shared responsibility to protect them. The wearing of masks is a prudent measure to prevent the virus from emerging and spreading within nursing homes and to protect residents.
“Masks are a continued requirement within healthcare settings and we consider it is reasonable, at this time, to encourage their continuation for all visitors to nursing homes to seek to protect them from the spread of the virus.
“The wearing of a facemask is an important measure to limit transmission of the virus from the community into the nursing home and achieve a vital role in protecting residents and staff.”
Mr Daly also urged anyone with a fever or respiratory symptoms to refrain from visiting a nursing home.
NHI said it is engaging with public health officials regarding the increasing number of Covid-19 outbreaks in nursing homes.