The Department of Education was formally notified in the afternoon of Thursday 22 October that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) had removed ViraPro hand sanitiser (PCS 100409) from the product register.
There was immediate follow up within the Department of Education and contact made with DAFM, in order to secure more details and that work continued all afternoon and into the late evening to establish the facts in relation to the product concerned; the reasons for the product recall, the laboratory testing results and an understanding of the public health concerns.
As soon as the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine provided the Department of Education with the information and its formal statement, the Department of Education issued an advisory notification to schools and to media.
Given the public health concerns and the distribution of these products in the wider community, it was both necessary and appropriate for the DAFM to issue the public information notice on the recall of this product.
The Department of Education then concentrated on alerting schools to this issue, and made considerable efforts last night to contact all schools and media to spread the information widely.
It was necessary to contact all schools because the Department did not receive a list of schools that had purchased this product from the supplier when requested.
The supplier and all their products were removed from the education sector procurement agreement on Thursday.
Prior to this, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) had contacted the Education Procurement Service by phone on the afternoon of Tuesday 20October.
They indicated that the certification of a product range included on the Education Sector PPE multi supplier agreement was to be revoked.
Details of the issues and public health concerns arising were not available at that point and DAFM indicated that further information and formal notification would follow. The Education Procurement Service sought an update on Wednesday and it was indicated that formal notification would be provided as soon as possible.
On Friday evening the DAFM informed this Department that all products bearing the ViraPro name need to be withdrawn and returned to the supplier. All such products had been removed from the procurement agreement on Thursday and the Department of Education will now advise all schools to cease all use of these products. These products have been on general sale and not just available through the education sector framework.
Schools that have closed today do not have to make up the day later in the year. Schools impacted will also be provided with funding for an Aide for two days to assist with dealing with these issues.