PEOPLE in Ireland should be wearing face masks while walking down crowded city streets to protect themselves from coronavirus, according to a number of infectious diseases experts.
Professor Luke O'Neill, of Trinity College Dublin insists that the idea is "not an unreasonable thing to suggest," particularly as it's been a common practice in many Asian cities for decades.
Speaking to Pat Kenny on Newstalk this morning, he said: "In Asia that happens, if you look at a street in Tokyo and there's crowds they're all wearing masks.
"You can't keep the distance in that situation, because remember if you stay two metres away, that’s really good, and outdoors is even better.
"If you get within a few inches of someone on a crowded street, it would be wise to put your mask on and in fact, some countries recommend that.
"In fact, some countries recommended that [you] keep your mask handy - if you find yourself in a crowded place outdoors, pop the mask on - being careful of course not to touch it too much.
"But that's not an unreasonable thing to suggest".
Dr Jack Lambert, a consultant in infectious diseases at the Mater Hospital, echoed Prof. O'Neill's suggestion, stressing that mask wearing in congregated areas outdoors is a decision that "must be taken now".
"You need a mask in every situation and we are letting our guards down," he told the Irish Independent.
"I was walking around Henry Street and Grafton Street and there were crowds but no one was wearing a mask," Dr Lambert added.
"If I was in government, it is the first thing I would bring in - masks in busier outside areas, that the public wear a mask in all urban situations. Obviously we need to do more than we are currently doing.
"There's such a fear, we are paralysed by it.
"We have to do something to improve best practice - that is, masks and social distancing because we need the economy to recover and mental health is suffering.
"We need to travel, to welcome visitors safely.
"We should open all the pubs and yes, we run a risk but we need to live safely with the virus."