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

Communication issues over unauthorised hand sanitiser in schools

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. File photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times.

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

By Democrat reporter

Members of the Irish 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 in Dublin 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, but it is not known whether it is in use in West Dunbartonshire because the SNP Council refuse to comment to The Democrat, which it refuses to recognise as a local news platform.

The Irish Government department has 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.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue said a potential problem was first raised on September 25th. He said Revenue notified the department that the European Anti-Fraud Office had contacted them about the importation of a hand sanitiser from Turkey to Ireland from the same supplier of a product tested in Denmark and found to contain excessive levels of methanol.

He said the results of tests the department carried out were fully validated on October 16th. The department has acknowledged that it was first alerted to safety issues with hand sanitiser used in schools on Tuesday. However, schools were not told to stop using it until late on Thursday.

Unprecedented

Speaking on Saturday, Minister of State Colm Brophy told RTÉ’s Saturday with Katie Hannon that Ministers should have been informed sooner about the issue.

Asked if he was shocked at the delay, given the product was being used by children and some €9 million had been spent on it, Mr Brophy said the Government was dealing with an unprecedented pandemic and that there was “so much happening at such a speed”.

He said it would have been better if the issue had been communicated sooner but that the Department of Education moved “as fast as they could” after being notified.

Coronavirus Data Dashboard

Sinn Féin healh spokesman David Cullinane said it was worrying that a product being used to protect people was not safe and that the delay in informing the Minister was “unacceptable and speaks to the chaos we have here at the time”.

On Friday night, the Department of Agriculture 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 Irish schools were forced to shut their doors on Friday amid the hand sanitiser scare.

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 [strange way to describe a product that has been deemed unsafe to use and which cost £9 million] 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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