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To wear a mask or not? Cork doctor shares her expert advice

It is impossible not to feel overwhelmed by the never-ending Covid-19 news. There are so many conflicting opinions from people in the news and online and they can leave us feeling pretty lost. We all know we need to stay at home, practice proper coughing and sneezing etiquette and wash our hands, but one big question that’s being debated at the moment is whether we should be wearing masks or not.

Other countries have ordered their citizens to wear masks, especially in spaces like supermarkets and pharmacies, however, other experts claim there isn’t enough evidence to prove masks protect against Covid-19.

There is one healthcare professional we’ve turned to when we’re in need of some clarity and advice and that is Cork GP Dr. Doireann O’ Leary.

She shared the most helpful tips about wearing masks on her Instagram that has certainly helped us feel way better.


A post shared by Dr. Doireann O’Leary (@dr.doireannoleary) on

Dr O’ Leary wrote: “Wearing masks has been controversial since the outbreak of covid19. This is a new disease so there’s not much evidence available on what works and what doesn’t. On April 4th The CDC updated their guideline to recommend the use of homemade, cloth masks amongst healthy people, particularly in situations where it’s difficult to maintain physical distancing in areas of significant community transmission.”

“The CDC guidelines are aimed at reducing transmission of COVID-19 from people who are infected but not yet showing symptoms; there’s still no evidence to show that wearing a mask reduces the wearer’s likelihood of catching COVID-19. 

However, the World Health Organisation has stressed that there isn’t enough substantial evidence to prove that masks stop the spread of Covid-19.


A post shared by Dr. Doireann O’Leary (@dr.doireannoleary) on

Dr O’ Learly highlighted the risk of homemade masks including self contamination by reusing a soiled mask, potential breathing issues and a false sense of security. There is also concern that there would be a lack of masks available for healthcare workers if the entire nation was to start wearing them.

If you do make your own mask at home then Dr O’ Leary recommends following the below measures:

  1. Make sure the mask fits snugly + comfortably against the side of the face

  2. Is secured with ties or ear loops

  3. Includes multiple layers of fabric

  4. Allows for breathing without restriction

  5. Can be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

  6. Is removed safely i.e. washing your hands before and after putting it on and not touching your face when putting it on/taking it off.

“There’s no black and white answer. CDC says yes, WHO says “not enough evidence”. And as of yet, The HSE doesn’t recommend masks for all in Ireland. That recommendation might change depending on evidence that emerges.”

We couldn’t recommend following Dr. Doireann O’ Leary on Instagram more. Her advice is calm and beyond helpful, which is exactly what we need during this crisis.




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