Concerns have been raised about whether Ireland will have enough face masks to meet demand as health experts predict people will soon be required to wear them in public.
With the World Health Organisation (WHO) expected to issue a policy U-turn on wearing masks, experts fear this may have a knock-on effect and jeopardise the supply to HSE staff.
Some European countries and US states have already made it compulsory to wear masks on public transport and when visiting shops.
In the UK, scientific advisers met yesterday to discuss whether people should be urged to wear masks in public in a bid to combat Covid-19.
The WHO previously said there was no evidence to support the use of masks by the general population in preventing the spread of Covid-19.
It currently recommends that healthy people need only wear a mask if looking after a suspected or confirmed case.
However, experts believe this advice may be about to change after "compelling new research" showed the virus may be spread by people talking, and therefore masks may help curtail transmission.
"The big mistake in the US and Europe is that people aren't wearing masks," George Gao, head of the China Centre for Disease Control, told the journal 'Science'.
Professor Sam McConkey, an infectious disease expert at Beaumont Hospital, believes the "whole population should be wearing masks" when in public places.
He said all staff at Beaumont are wearing masks when meeting all patients and colleagues, despite the HSE not recommending this.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Prof McConkey said that while he thinks masks should be worn by all, it could be a "disaster" if it results in a shortage for frontline staff.
"When making national recommendations, they have to be achievable. There's no point saying everyone should build an Eiffel Tower in their back garden if it's not feasible. I think the reason why the public isn't being made to wear masks is because there simply aren't enough," he said.
"We don't have enough, we absolutely don't have enough, and then you've got to prioritise the hospitals and nursing homes."
Professor of Immunology at Trinity College Dublin, Luke O'Neill, also believes people will soon be required to wear masks in public.
"I would strongly recommend that people wear them when they go shopping," he said.
"Last week a scientific journal of record came out showing that when you speak you produce these aerosols and there is good evidence that they carry the virus, so I think there will be a change in advice and guidelines here soon."
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention changed its guidance on the wearing of masks on April 6, advising people "to cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others".
A spokesperson for the National Public Health Emergency Team said it is "keeping all international evidence and advice under continuous review including the role of masks in healthcare and other settings as the basis for any recommendations".
Meanwhile, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has written to the HSE asking it to recommend face masks be worn by all healthcare workers in all settings.
A HSE spokesperson said: "This recommendation is not supported by current evidence and it is not consistent with the current national guidance."
In 2009, the State issued financial sector guarantees that were equivalent to twice the level of national gross domestic product, and ushered in an era of austerity and job losses.