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Covid-19: Public advised to stop using all Virapro sanitary products

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Members of the public have been advised to stop using all Virapro-branded sanitary products after it emerged that several are not authorised for use in the State.

The Department of Agriculture made the announcement late on Friday night, a day after a specific hand sanitiser made by the company was recalled from the market over health concerns.

The product, Virapro Hand Sanitiser (PCS 100409), has been used in many schools by students and staff.

The department warned that prolonged use of the sanitiser may cause dermatitis, eye irritation, upper respiratory system irritation and headaches.

It removed the product from the Biocidal Product Register because of the public health concerns.

On Thursday, the department said not to use the sanitiser as it contains methanol rather than ethanol. On Friday night, it said, in the course of the investigation into the hand sanitiser, it emerged that a number of other sanitary products under the Virapro brand were not on its approved list for biocidal products.

“The company concerned has been advised to withdraw all of these products from the market,” said a department statement.

“The department is therefore advising, on a precautionary basis, that all sanitary products in the Virapro range should be returned to the supplier.

“Members of the public are advised to stop using these products because they are not authorised for use.”

The department said all products containing biocides were required to have specific information and data on the labels.

Schools close

A number of schools were forced to shut their doors on Friday amid the hand sanitiser scare.

St Patrick’s Boys National School in Drumcondra and Gaelscoil Ros Eo in Rush were among the schools to close for the day.

Prof Anne Looney, chair of St Patrick’s Boys school, said pupils were disappointed as Friday was fancy dress day.

She told the RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne show that she searched shops online to purchase sanitiser late on Thursday night.

“I knew that probably local schools would be able to help,” she added.

“They’d been in touch this morning but there was too much uncertainty and this was actually dress-up day in school, so there was a slightly higher level of risk and the importance of having the sanitiser in place for every boy and every staff member coming in, so getting that certainty — we couldn’t give that.”

Dr Paddy Mallon, consultant in infectious disease at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin, said the incident was “surprising”.

“Whether it’s schools or hospitals, everyone has been struggling to access sufficient supplies of what we need but that has improved over time,” he added.

“We need to recognise that there is a need to focus on safety but also how important hand sanitiser and hand washing is.

“It’s an unfortunate hiccup that has had a severe impact on schools.

“The majority of hand sanitiser won’t have this particular type of alcohol.

“We need to continue to be diligent and frequent users of hand sanitisers because it is key in protecting ourselves.” – PA

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