Face masks recommended in fight against COVID-19

Updated WHO advice on masks

In light of the escalating rise in COVID-19 infections in Victoria, the Victorian Government is recommending face masks are worn within metro Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire to help stop the spread of the virus.

While previously advice around the effectiveness of face masks in reducing COVID-19 transmission has been contradictory, new studies have recently shown that wearing face masks can reduce transmissions by around 60%.

“With a virus this infectious, every bit helps and the simply action of wearing a face mask will help protect your family, your neighbours and the most vulnerable in our community,” says Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Professor Brett Sutton.

As a result of this and following advice from global medical experts, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced that the new recommendations from the Chief Health Officer would apply from Monday 13 July 2020, adding that this is a health recommendation only and will not be enforced – people will not be fined for not wearing masks.

“The Chief Health Officer has now given us the clear advice that wearing face masks makes a tangible difference when it comes to reducing the transmission of coronavirus within the community – and that is why we are issuing this new recommendation,” says Premier Daniel Andrews.

“Staying at home if you feel unwell is still the best way to slow the spread of coronavirus but wearing a cloth mask provides an additional physical barrier, adding one more layer of protection for you and those around you.”

Reportedly, the order of two million reusable face masks will be placed by the end of July.

To bridge the gap while local manufacturing ramps up, a million single-use masks will also be ordered, favouring Victorian manufacturers to provide a much-needed boost for local jobs.

Consultation will also occur within union and industry groups about whether the advice around face masks in the workplace needs to also be updated.

“At this stage, the advice only applies to people living in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire are where physical distancing is not possible, but wearing a mask is an added protection that anyone can choose to take – no matter where they live,” adds the Minister for Health, Jenny Mikakos.

Face masks provide an added layer of protection but the best ways to reduce the transmission of coronavirus remain the same:

  • Good hand hygiene;
  • Cough and sneeze etiquette;
  • Keeping a physical distance of 1.5 metres.