An infectious disease expert has urged Australians to wear masks as a new Covid wave prompts two states to consider reintroducing the unpopular measure.
This week, two Adelaide hospitals made masks mandatory in clinical areas, while Queensland doctors are urging the state government to mandate masks in hospitals and on public transport.
It comes as 6550 cases were reported across the country on October 24, prompting some health professionals to declare an eighth Covid wave.
Infectious diseases physician Paul Griffin said while he didn’t think it was time for mask mandates, he did recommend people “strongly consider” wearing a mask.
“I think it’s clear we don’t need rules and mandates around masks at the moment, but we should really be encouraging and facilitating mask-wearing as much as possible, particularly in high-risk settings,” Dr Griffin told Sunrise on Wednesday morning.
He said people were “not doing a good enough job” to stop the spread of infection and urged them to stay on top of the basics, including keeping up to date with booster vaccinations and staying at home when sick.
“There are quite a few people unwell at the moment and that’s why we need to reinforce this,” he said.
In Queensland, there are 245 people hospitalised with the virus.
Australian Medical Association Queensland president Maria Boulton criticised the state’s health body on Wednesday for not being transparent with the public about the latest Covid spike.
“The association would like to see the chief health officer addressing the community regularly and guiding them on how we can avoid another disastrous Christmas,” she told the Chronicle.
Queensland doctors are calling on the chief health officer to encourage masks in medical facilities, on public transport and in crowded venues in the lead up to the holiday period.
Minister for Aged Care Anika Wells told Today on Wednesday morning that Queenslanders understood they needed to adapt to the “new reality”.
“If you are going to visit Nan or Grandpa this Christmas, be protected,” she said. “We want people to be vigilant.”
Meanwhile in South Australia, chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier announced at a Monday press conference that Lyell McEwin and Modbury hospitals in northern Adelaide have made face masks mandatory for staff and visitors.
More than 2,400 cases were reported across the state in the seven days between November 1 and 8. Covid cases are also on the rise in NSW, where the most recent health data shows 4700 cases were reported in the fortnight to November 4.
At the end of September, the number of cases reported in the previous fortnight was 1800.