mask of sorrow | 

Newstalk presenter Dr Ciara Kelly ‘deeply concerned’ about children being asked to wear masks 

It comes as NPHET have recommended school kids begin wearing masks at school and in shops
Clodagh Meaney

Newstalk Breakfast host Dr Ciara Kelly has said that she feels “deeply concerned” about children being asked to wear face coverings.

It comes as NPHET has recommended that all children over nine should wear masks on public transport and in shops. It will also be necessary for primary school pupils in third, fourth, fifth and sixth class to wear face coverings at school.

The new rules on masks are set to remain in place until at least mid-February under advice sent to ministers.

“I’m actually deeply concerned and I’m kind of sad, hearing this, and don’t get me wrong, I know we’re in a battle with Covid, I get all that,” Ciara said on the show this morning, Friday.

“I also know, and I don’t believe that wearing masks in that age group is going to affect them or harm them in any way physically.”

“Their breathing, I mean, and I don't even know if it’s going to affect their mental health, I think it's much subtler than that.”

Ciara expressed that her main concerns are around interpersonal and social development.

“I am worried for these kids, about their interpersonal development, and their social development.”

“We have nine year olds here who don’t even remember life before Covid.

"It's about a quarter of their life, almost at this stage has been affected by all of this and I think that masks or any form of barrier affect how we interact with each other.”

“We see that if you put a remove between people, they behave differently,” she said.

“We see it on social media, people are cruel on social media because of that remove. You see it in the traffic, people will pick their nose in the next car in full view of you because there's two panes of glass between you,” she explained. “I remember when I worked as a psychiatrist we used to do this exercise with medical students.

"We’d make them put on masks and watch their behaviour change because when we put that kind of barrier that veils between us, it affects our social interaction and we don't really know we really don't know the effects of messing with our kids’ social development to be honest.”

The 50-year-old former medical practitioner said she has never seen a time where kids have been asked to protect their elders before.

“I've never seen a situation really in my lifetime where the old have asked the young to protect them. It's usually the old and the adult who protect the young.”

“Adults protect children not the other way around and that's what were asking them here and I don't like it”

“I don't like child soldiers in this battle and we heard from Professor Sam [McAuley] saying ‘we don't even know if the evidence is there to support this’. Do no harm is the tenet, the primary tenet of medicine.”

Other recommendations made by NPHET include children under 12 years old avoiding indoor settings for the next two weeks.

Dr Tony Holohan’s team have advised that children shouldn’t attend birthday parties, nativity plays, communions, sleepovers or indoor playdates.

Following the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approval of the Pfizer vaccine to be used among children aged five to 11, primary school pupils will be offered vaccines based on their class they attend in school, with shots to be administered in vaccination centres.

The first batch of vaccines for under 11s will arrive into Ireland during Christmas week. Pending advice from NIAC, the HSE will be able to roll out the children’s vaccination programme in tandem with the adult booster programme.

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