Wearing a mask the new norm

Local health experts are calling on the community to wear face masks, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 across the region.

Respiratory Specialist, Dr Andrew Bradbeer and WDHS Chief Medical Officer, Dr Dale Ford say they want to see mask wearing become the norm, as an important measure to reduce the risk of community transmission.

There has been some confusion about wearing masks in the past, but Dr Bradbeer says with the current rates of community spread in Victoria, it’s a necessary precautionary measure.

“We are recommending that people wear masks when out shopping and in other situations where social distancing is difficult, or people are at risk.

There’s mounting evidence that this virus is even more infectious than was originally thought. Studies are finding that many people are asymptomatic and that speaking is enough to expel virus-carrying droplets.

Many people don’t show symptoms and don’t know they have the virus, so you can’t really tell who is infected. I’m not suggesting we are surrounded by clouds of COVID-19 every time we head out, but it’s important that we take every precaution we can.

If we all get on board, it can become trendy and people can show a bit of personality with their masks. It doesn’t have to be oppressive, just something we all need to do to keep each other safe,” Dr Bradbeer said.

Dr Ford agrees and says whether the mask is homemade or purchased isn’t critical, although masks with valves (commonly used in construction to prevent the inhalation of dust) aren’t effective, because they don’t protect those around you.

“You can make your own cloth mask or use an off the shelf surgical mask. It should be comfortable and allow you to breathe easily. Putting it on and removing it correctly is also really important, you shouldn’t touch the front of the mask, as you may have come into contact with a surface that has virus droplets on it and transfer these to the mask.

If you are using a homemade cloth mask, you should also wash it regularly. There is plenty of information available on the DHHS website, so follow the guidelines, and remember that wearing a mask doesn’t make you bullet proof, you still need to social distance, wash your hands and stay at home where possible,” Dr Ford said.

For more information about masks and how to make your own, visit the DHHS website: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/face-masks-covid-19

Currently all visitors to WDHS facilities are required to wear a face mask for the duration of their visit. Disposable masks are supplied as part of the arrival screening process. Visitors can also use their own mask if they prefer.

Further key messages DHHS website:

  • Wearing a face mask protects you and your community by providing an additional physical barrier to coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Keeping 1.5 metres between yourself and others and washing your hands are still the best defences against coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • There are two types of face masks suitable for community use: cloth masks and surgical masks.
  • The recommendation to wear a face mask does not apply to children (people aged under 18 years), individuals with breathing difficulties, and those who have physical conditions that make it difficult to wear a face mask.
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