Coronavirus: Eight more deaths recorded as facemask policy is reviewed

Another eight people with Covid-19 have died in the State, bringing the total number of fatalities linked to the disease to 1,703, according to figures released on Thursday evening by the Department of Health.

Another eight cases have also been confirmed, meaning that a total of 25,238 people have been diagnosed with Covid-19 since the pandemic arrived here, the department said.

The figures came as the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) met to review progress in the pandemic, and to review the World Health Organisation’s updated advice on face coverings.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Dáil the Government would launch a new public information campaign about the use of face masks but he warned again that “it is not a magic shield”.

He also said that social distancing of 1 metre rather than 2 metres is “much less of a risk than it was a few weeks ago when the virus was circulating in the community to a much greater extent than it is now” and the Government hoped to make a decision on that matter next week.

Earlier on Thursday, a WHO special envoy said face coverings should be mandatory on public transport and were a “proper part” of the overall strategy to fight Covid-19.

Dr David Nabarro told an Oireachtas committee his personal view was that regular face coverings should ideally have multiple layers but there was no need for special material or cloth.