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tighten up Wearing a face mask ‘too loosely’ may increase risk of Covid

Warning from deputy CMO after US data on ‘double masking’

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Dr Ronan Glynn has said the time is still not right for all schools to reopen. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Dr Ronan Glynn has said the time is still not right for all schools to reopen. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Dr Ronan Glynn has said the time is still not right for all schools to reopen. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

People are leaving themselves at risk of being infected with Covid-19 because they are not wearing their face mask tightly enough around their ears, it emerged last night.

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said people may be wearing them too loosely around their ears. They should knot them at the back of their ears and have them “quite tight.”

He was commenting on new advice from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention that people should wear two masks.

“There is no reason why people should not double mask but the key for everyone is wear at least one mask and wear it properly,” he said.

It comes as high levels of Covid-19 continue to circulate with signs of some slowing down in the fall in the spread of the virus.

Prof Philip Nolan, who tracks the virus, said the resumption in the testing of close contacts of infected cases was having an impact but there were also signs that people were becoming more mobile.

The decline in cases was at 6pc to 9pc and this has slowed in recent days.

Around half the population is still working compared to 25pc in April and May.

He was speaking as another 52 deaths were reported, bringing the toll to 326 this month.

A further 866 people have been newly diagnosed with the virus.

He said:” The positivity rates among household contacts is quite high, close to 30pc. This is a timely reminder to us all to immediately isolate ourselves if we have any symptoms, to protect those most important to us. We should also continue to limit our social contacts.”

There are still around 41 deaths a day from the virus but infection incidence in older people is coming down.

If the population maintains the strict ‘stay at home’ rules of lockdown, the number of daily cases could reduce to 200 to 400 at the beginning of March, and 100 to 300 by the middle of the month.

Asked what parents should do with their children during mid-term break next week, he said they should stay at home.

“We cannot afford to just let up for a week. Of course, get out for exercise but act safely.”

People were told that if they are going out with their children they should not meet up with other families, and if they do, to keep their distance and wear a mask.

Figures show that some of the extreme pressure on hospitals is easing: 984 patients with Covid-19 were in hospital yesterday with 172 in intensive care. If the virus continues to be suppressed this should fall to 250 to 400 by the middle of March.

Dr Glynn said that there were high levels of cases in Dublin early this week and although it had since fallen, it was something they were monitoring.

He said the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) had not given any specific advice on whether inter-county GAA games could be held during Level 5 but it was not possible to have everything, and a return to education was a priority.

Asked why, given that education is such a priority, children are not back at school, he said: “Because we still have more people in hospital than at any point last year, still more people in critical disease and still a high level of disease.”

He said people should do everything they can in order to not add to those cases. He added there are still 40-50 hospital admissions a day, along with six or seven new patients per day to intensive care.

“We are seeing much too high an incidence in the community for a million people to go back,” Dr Glynn said. “We are really keen to get education back as soon as we can but that is not today.

“But our caution should not be interpreted as [a comment] on the safety of the school environment but mobility levels of the population as a whole.”

Meanwhile, the Irish Cancer Society said it was concerned at a significant drop in suspected lung cancer cases being sent on for further investigation at rapid-access clinics. Figures show that GP referrals to lung rapid access clinics dropped by 55pc last month compared to January of last year.

The society warned that the fall in referrals may mean that people with symptoms of lung cancer are not seeking medical advice from their GP and possibly delaying a diagnosis of cancer, or receiving a later diagnosis in an emergency department. Just 93 electronic referrals were made to lung cancer rapid access clinics last month compared to 207 in ­January 2020.

Director of advocacy and external affairs Rachel Morrogh, said: “The early detection of cancer is key to survival and good quality of life. This is particularly true for lung cancers, many of which are picked up at a late stage.

The Irish Cancer Society is concerned that these figures may indicate a repeat in the pattern of behaviour we saw in the first lockdown, where there was a drop of 40pc in e-referrals to lung cancer rapid access clinics in August 2020 compared to the previous February.

“Research we undertook last year showed that one in four people put off going to see a GP or attending a hospital appointment during the initial wave of Covid-19.”

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