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16,000 spit hoods are on the way to Gardai to protect them against being spat at or coughed on by suspects.

It follows a number of incidents where front line workers have been deliberately targeted during the course of their work.

A spit hood is a fabric or mesh device designed to be placed over a suspect’s head to prevent them coughing or spitting at others. 16,000 of them have been ordered by An Garda Siochana to be used by the force during the public health crisis

The average spit hood is around €3 meaning a cost to the state of up to €50,000.

A number of incidents have been reported where front line workers have been coughed on or spat at. Gardaí are investigating one incident at Blanchardstown Hospital in Dublin where a healthcare worker was spat at deliberately. Her alleged attacker has since tested positive for Covid-19.

Fianna Fail TD James Lawless is calling for new legislation to ensure a serious conviction for those found guilty of the practice.

In a statement, Gardaí says that rules and training for using spit hoods will be provided to officers prior to their issue.