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Public health guidance on universal face mask use by healthcare workers in the context of COVID-19

Status: Published on

To inform guidance development by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) and decision-making by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) in their response to COVID-19, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has developed a rapid review of public health guidance. This review set out to answer the following question: What guidance is available internationally for the universal use of face masks by healthcare workers in the context of COVID-19?  

It was undertaken in April 2020 to inform a decision on whether healthcare workers in Ireland should move to universal mask wearing in clinical settings.

Current policy in Ireland (as of April 21) is that surgical masks should be worn by all healthcare workers when they are providing care to people and are within two metres of a person, regardless of the COVID-19 status of the person. Surgical masks should also be worn by all healthcare workers for all encounters, of 15 minutes or more, with other healthcare workers in the workplace where a distance of two metres cannot be maintained.