Wearing a mask to prevent the spread of coronavirus has become a much-debated topic in Australia.
Whether you want to know where and when you should wear one, or how to make your own we’ve got the answers.
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Is it mandatory to wear a mask in Melbourne?
In Victoria, the State Government advice is to wear a mask in situations where physical distancing “can’t be guaranteed”.
Surgical masks are vital for healthcare workers, but you don’t necessarily need one to run to the shops.(ABC News: Patrick Rocca)
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has ordered 2 million reusable masks to be distributed to the public, with another 1 million single-use masks to be given to at-risk people first.
He said he predicted the state’s advice regarding face masks in Melbourne would stand for “many, many months”.
It’s a move that has received the backing of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), as well as the Australian Medical Association and Victoria’s Chief Health Officer.
However, the Federal Government’s advice has stressed that the rest of Australia, at this stage, does not need to follow Victoria’s lead. Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the Victorian advice is not a “broad recommendation” for people across the country.
As a result, the Australian Government’s position remains that routine use of face masks is not recommended.
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The Department of Health says: “While the rate of community transmission is low, the routine use of face masks in the community is not recommended. A face mask is not a substitute for other precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
Those precautions are:
- Staying home when sick
- Physical distancing
- Hand hygiene
- Cough etiquette and respiratory hygiene
How do I make a mask?
You absolutely can make your own mask, provided you have a sewing machine or are particularly adept at hand stitching, and most importantly you have the correct materials.
The Victorian Government recommends you make your mask with three layers of breathable fabric, with each layer about 25cm x 25cm.
A water-resistant fabric (like polyester or polypropylene) is recommended for the outer layer, a blended fabric ( like a cotton polyester blend or polypropylene) for the middle layer, and a water-absorbing cotton fabric for the inner layer.
You’ll also need some elastic for ties to keep the mask in place.
For a full guide on how to make your own mask, this article will help you out.
The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services has a great pattern here.
How do I wear a mask properly?
Once you’ve made your mask, make sure you’re wearing it properly.
It must fit securely around your face, covering the nose and mouth areas, must be secured with ties at the back of the head or with ear loops, and allow for breathing without restriction.
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It must not have holes or a valve, and it must be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or changes to its shape.
It’s also important the mask stays dry, so you’ll need to routinely wash your cloth masks in a washing machine as soon as they become damp.
Masks must cover your nose and mouth and if they’re reusable, they have to be washed regularly.(ABC News: Brendan Esposito)
How do masks work?
While self-isolation and physical distancing is the most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, masks can still provide a physical barrier to the virus and make social interactions safer.
Face masks help contain droplets when people cough or sneeze, reducing the likelihood of spreading the virus.
Where can I get masks?
Masks are available from chemists, hardware stores and from online stores.
What are the best masks for coronavirus?
You can’t go past a surgical mask after all, they are designed to keep health professionals safe.
Even President Donald Trump has caved and worn a mask.(AP: Patrick Semansky)
P2 and N95 masks are medical-grade coverings but they have not been recommended for public use.
Aussies working on the virus front line need them more than the average punter.
But for quick trips to the shops, fabric masks will do the job.
Just make sure it’s covering your nose and mouth and that you wash it regularly.
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