Wear A Mask, Prevent The Spread

Written by on 28 July 2020

Wearing masks, in addition to social distancing, could have prevented the spike in COVID-19 cases currently experienced by Victoria, says Western Sydney University professor, describing them as your first line of defence.

Speaking from her workplace in Victoria to the Gazette, Dr Vicki Kotsirilos, Associate Professor with the NICM Health Research Institute at Western Sydney University is appealing to the broader Sydney community to wear masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

“In NSW the health authorities are not making masks mandatory. However, this was the situation in Victoria a month ago and had we been wearing masks earlier, it might have actually prevented the spike we’re currently having in Victoria,” said Dr Kotsirilos.

As of 26 July, there has been a total of 14,403 confirmed cases in Australia since 22 January, with the majority of new cases (459) coming from Victoria in the last 24-hours.

While only 14 new cases were reported in NSW in the last 24-hours, “the more people wear masks, the less the COVID transmission will occur.

This is due to the roughly 80% of people being asymptomatic, people who might be harbouring COVID-19 that have no symptoms or have very mild symptoms.

Masks should be worn in public areas when social distancing of 1.5 metres is not possible, with Dr Kotsirilos, promoting the use of more environmentally friendly and recyclable cloth masks over single-use disposable masks.

If a mask is not available, “a scarf or a bandanna or a long scarf you wrap around your nose and mouth up to your upper chest,” is also recommended.

Dr Kotsirilos warns, however, that “a mask is not a replacement for physical distance, appropriate hand hygiene, and sneezing and cough etiquette,” stressing that “must be used in combination with these three recommendations by the health authorities”.

To protect your first line of COVID defence, wearers should avoid touching the outer and inner surface of the masks, in addition to washing cloth masks in hot water (>56 degrees Celsius) and detergent after use.

For more information about mask-wearing and COVID-19, please access the infographic below from the Department of Health.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Do I need to wear a mask?

This infographic explains when you need to wear a mask and how to use a mask properly.

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