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Visitors to nursing homes encouraged to wear facemasks

Friday February 25, 2022

25th February 2022: Nursing Homes Ireland is encouraging all nursing home visitors to wear facemasks against the backdrop of a concerning increase in the number of outbreaks in nursing homes. 320 outbreaks are open in nursing homes this week, with 43 new outbreaks reported in the last week alone. Tadhg Daly, NHI CEO states: “Given the considerable increase in outbreaks and concerns that this presents, we are encouraging all visitors to nursing homes is to take the precautionary measure of wearing a facemask during the duration of their visit. 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. NHI has encouraged the wearing of surgical facemasks, where possible. Visitors are already required, under the public health guidance, to wear a surgical mask when in a communal indoor space during their visit to the nursing home. Furthermore, in keeping with the national guidance, any prospective visitors with fever or respiratory symptoms should stay away from the home.

“The increase in the number of outbreaks is concerning. While the effect of the virus is thankfully nowhere near as pronounced as it was for residents during previous waves, nursing homes inform it is 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. 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.

“Nursing homes have a duty of care to protect residents. It should be noted, residents are required under the public health guidelines to isolate for ten days when they test positive for Covid19. So supporting safe visits and containing the spread of the virus is important to support their health and wellbeing. 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.”

NHI are engaged with public health officials with regard to the concerning increase in number of outbreaks and requirement to support residents. Given the evolving situation, it is important to keep all advices and guidance under constant review.

Tadhg Daly is available for comment. Interviews will be facilitated by Michael McGlynn, NHI Communications & Research Executive, who can be contacted at 087 9082970.