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New NPHET ventilation group has formed

By Mindo - 11th Feb 2021

20/3/20 ***NO REPRO FEE*** The swab test. These photographs were taken at the testing centre at Croke Park. A number of HSE staff feature in these photographs. Please note that this is not a real test and does not feature members of the public, the photographs were posed for illustrative and educational purposes only. Many people will need testing for Covid-19 over the coming months and a number of locations nationally are being used as testing centres. Croke Park is a testing centre in north Dublin. About testing: If you develop symptoms you will need to self-isolate and phone your GP. The people in your household need to restrict their movements. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital, the GP will assess you over the phone. If they think you need to be tested for coronavirus, they will arrange a test. Waiting for a test doesn’t change how you manage your symptoms or interactions with other people. If you are waiting on a test to see if you have Covid 19 or you have been tested and are waiting for the results you need to stay home and self-isolate to prevent you spreading any potential infection to others. For factual, trusted advice and information on Covid-19, go to Pic: Marc O’Sullivan

An expert group on ventilation, formed to advise the national public health emergency team (NPHET), held its first meeting on 2 February.

Its finalised terms of reference and membership list will be published in the coming days, a Department of Health spokesperson told the Medical Independent (MI).

In January, Chair of the NPHET and Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan, requested that the Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government and Director General of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Prof Mark Ferguson “assemble a group of relevant experts with a range of backgrounds that would advise the NPHET on ventilation and its various aspects (eg, indoor air quality, architectural design, engineering, aerosol physics, building standards, etc)”.

The group will provide its advice to NPHET through Prof Ferguson, according to the Department’s spokesperson.

In Ireland and abroad, there has been criticism of the lack of focus on ventilation in public health messaging and measures, despite broad acknowledgement of the potential for airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2, particularly in indoor settings with poor ventilation.

The extent of the role played by airborne transmission is a matter of ongoing debate in the medical and scientific community.

Concerns about insufficient measures in place to improve ventilation, including in healthcare and long-term care settings, are featured in the latest edition of MI.

Meanwhile, MI asked the Department for details of the process by which new members are included on the NPHET.  “New members may be added at a given point in time to enable further consideration on specific issues of concern. New members are appointed to the NPHET by the Chair and this done in consultation with the Minister for Health,” said the spokesperson.

Recently, new appointments were made to the NPHET, namely RCPI President Prof Mary Horgan, a Consultant in Infectious Diseases; Prof Karina Butler, Chair of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee and a Consultant in Paediatric Infectious Diseases; and Prof Ferguson.

In autumn 2020, the expert advisory group to the NPHET was reconstituted under HIQA with a broader membership.

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