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15 Aug 2022

Vaccines 'clearly not enough' - Government criticised for lack of action on ventilation

Vaccines 'clearly not enough' - Government criticised for lack of action on ventilation

Vaccines 'clearly not enough' - Government criticised for lack of action on ventilation

The government has been criticised for a lack of action on adequate ventilation in buildings across the country. 

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett made comments in the Dáil today during Leaders' Questions, stating, "We now know that Covid-19 is an airborne disease. It hangs around in the air and it hangs around in particular in buildings that are of poor air quality with poor ventilation or where there's a lack of filtration of the air. The science is building up very rapidly on this and yet the government is doing nothing about it." 

According to Deputy Boyd Barrett, there is "very strong evidence" that filters such as HEPA can drastically reduce and remove the presence of Covid-19 in the air, including other airborne viruses. 

The deputy said, "It's not a silver bullet but it may be a significant game changer." 

He particularly criticised the lack of ventilation available in schools.  

Taoiseach Micheál Martin responded by claiming he has advocated for ventilation "from the get-go", and said, "I'm for ventilation, proven means for ventilation." 

He said, "Government acts on science all the time on anything in relation to Covid-19. The Minister for Education has acted on expert advice given to the Minister for Education." 

The Taoiseach also mentioned the success of vaccinations, calling them a "game changer" for nursing homes. 

Deputy Boyd Barrett said, "Of course vaccines have made an enormous difference, it's still not enough, it's clearly not enough. You cannot absolve yourself for responsibility to do absolutely everything that you possibly can to reduce the impact of the virus, and you're not doing it when it comes to air quality." 

The deputy mentioned the use of filtration before surgery in hospital theatres and said, "Why do they do that? Because it works. It stops transmission of infection through the air. It could be a game changer, it would definitely help significantly. Why are you not demanding that we have minimum air quality standards and providing resources and filters necessary?" 

Taoiseach Martin said, "The Minister is developing a targeted approach. [Filters] have to be of sufficient quality and grade, and funding will be provided again where it's necessary, it may not be necessary in classrooms." 

He concluded: "We have given unprecedented resources to hospitals, to the economy, you must acknowledge that. You never have." 

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