Guidance to the general public on the wearing of face masks or coverings to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission has become more complicated - and potentially more expensive for some groups.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) in recent days changed its advice on face masks, saying they should be worn in public where physical distancing may not be possible to help stop the spread of the virus.
Each country makes its own rules so how does it sit with advice from chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan and his team?
The WHO up until Friday was slow to recommend the wearing of face coverings.
This was due to limited evidence they offer protection, fears people might not follow physical distancing when wearing them and also concerns about supplies to healthcare workers.
Now it says face coverings can be "a barrier for potentially infectious droplets".
Director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that "in light of evolving evidence, the WHO advises that governments should encourage the general public to wear masks where there is widespread transmission and physical distancing is difficult, such as on public transport, in shops or in other confined or crowded environments".
The WHO says widespread use of face masks by the public is not backed by high quality or direct scientific evidence. But it says a growing amount of "observational" evidence from countries where the practice is mandatory or recommended, coupled with the difficulty of physical distancing in many situations, means a change in advice is warranted.
It is strongly in favour of face coverings, which can be DIY face masks. But these must consist of three layers. This includes an absorbent inner layer, like cotton, and a synthetic outer layer that does not easily absorb water. Choose materials that capture droplets but remain easy to breathe through. Wash frequently at the highest temperature.
Masks for sale
For those who would prefer to purchase one, standard face masks are now on widespread sale in supermarkets and pharmacies. A pack of 10 was selling for €10 in a major supermarket yesterday. Some do not provide barrier protection against respiratory droplets or splashes. Some do not provide protection from aerosols - the airborne viral particles which can circulate from breathing, speech or shouting. A pack of 50 was retailing at €40 at a pharmacy chain.
The masks can be worn in shops, public transport, meetings with people from another household, church services or in cramped accommodation.
The WHO recommends people over 60 and those with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, respiratory illness or cancer should wear a medical mask. These provide a barrier for protection against respiratory droplets or splashes but not from airborne viral particles. But these are more expensive and public health doctors in the Republic would like them to be spared for health workers. Shoppers can buy them in pharmacies. They have the quality mark EN 14683. They were being sold yesterday at €130 for a pack 200.
Department of Health advice
The advice from our own public health doctors is to wear cloth face coverings in situations where it is difficult to socially distance. Wearing of cloth face coverings may help prevent people who do not know they have the virus from spreading it. Cocooners, who from today are advised they can visit shops, are recommended to wear a mask or face covering. Although strongly advised, it is not mandatory and not everyone can safely tolerate a mask and it does not apply to children under 13.