‘Take caution and wear masks in crowded situations’ – Taoiseach on latest Covid wave

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said he feels well and has no ill effects after his recent bout of Covid 19 which left him isolated in Washington for over a week.

ut Mr Martin also urged people to wear a mask against the virus in situations where they judged it best – especially in retail shops and on public transport.

At the same time he strongly defended the Government decision to end the legal obligation on people to wear masks. He insisted the Government had no other option given the expert medical advice given them.

The Taoiseach was speaking on arrival in Brussels for a two-day EU leaders’ summit, joined by US President Joe Biden, which will be dominated by the Ukrainian crisis and its humanitarian and economic fallout.

He was asked how he felt after his week-long Covid experience.

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“I’m feeling very good. Thank you very much. I seem to have been lucky to get a lighter dose of the strain and I’m thankful for that,” he said.

“The message there really is vaccination. I’m in no doubt that vaccination protected me anyway from getting more severely ill as a result of Covid and that’s the message I want to send to people,” he added.

Mr Martin said the legal obligation to wear masks had ended. But people were still advised to wear masks.

“I spoke to the chief medical officer in relation to this and he’s very clear that the advice stays. I mean, he hasn’t withdrawn advice in terms of the desirability of wearing masks in crowded situations, be it in public transport or in retail,” the Taoiseach insisted.

However, he said the Government simply could not continue mandatory mask wearing given the expert advice they were given.

“We had no basis for maintaining the legal requirements to do so, given the public advice that we had received at the time in terms of there not being a mandatory necessity for that,” Mr Martin said.

“But I think people should take caution and should wear masks in crowded situations,” he added.

Mr Martin said despite growing numbers in hospital, which increased pressures due to the isolation requirement, the Government was conscious that this current wave “seems to be less less virulent than earlier variants.

“The CMO is of that view. And it doesn’t justify further economic restrictions, that’s very clear from the chief medical officer – I spoke to him only in the last 48 hours,” he said.

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland

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