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Wearing face masks

Why it’s time to cover up.

Not all heroes wear capes – but masks, that’s a different story.

16 July 2020

Things are changing quickly in Victoria, and public health teams need our help.

We can all help to stop the spread of COVID-19 by doing one simple thing: if you must leave home and can’t keep 1.5m from others, wear a face mask.

The Chief Health Officer in Victoria has advised that all Victorians aged 12 years and older must wear a face covering when they leave home, unless an exemption applies, unless an exemption applies.

We’re sharing some information from the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and other health authorities to help answer some questions you might have.

Why are face masks being recommended in Victoria?
There are increased cases of ‘community transmission’ of COVID-19, where public health teams are unable to trace the source of the infection. This shows the virus is circulating undetected in our communities which makes it more difficult to control.

Earlier it was reported face masks weren’t necessary for the general public. Why has the advice changed?   
The advice on wearing masks has changed since earlier in the pandemic. This is because there has been a lot of research, and we know more about how and when the virus is transmitted, and that masks can have more of a benefit than previously thought.

How does wearing a face mask protect you?
Wearing a face mask puts a physical barrier between people and helps to reduce transmission of COVID-19. It will help protect you and others - if you are unaware you have the infection. Many people who have COVID-19 feel OK but are very infectious (either they are yet to develop symptoms or never have symptoms). 

What kind of face mask works best?
When we talk about ‘face masks’ we mean both cloth masks and single-use masks, commonly called ‘surgical masks’. Both will help prevent the spread of coronavirus. Whichever type of mask you use, you need to know how to wear it safely and how to wash  (if reusable) or dispose of it (if single use). 

We recommend you read DHHS and The World Health Organization advice on using face masks.

Can I make my own?
As the demand on masks is increasing, it is really important we try and conserve supplies of surgical masks for health workers. So, you can make your own. Personalise it and make a statement!

If you’re making your own cloth mask, please follow recommended guidelines. Here’s a great instruction sheet from DHHS and a video to help.

What if it feels uncomfortable?
We know that wearing a face mask is unusual, and can take a bit of getting used to. Take time to work out how to properly fit your face mask so it’s comfortable. If you wear glasses, think about using anti-fog spray. 

A face mask is a tool to stop the spread of COVID-19, prevent others from getting ill, and keep us all safe. As more people wear a mask, the more normal it will become.

Just remember masks are not a magic bullet. The best way to protect against COVID-19 is to keep 1.5 metres apart from other, wash your hands often, and cover your cough or sneeze. All of these actions together help in the fight against COVID-19, and will in time help us return to living our lives unimpeded by restrictions.

Podcast – The COVID Collective

If you haven’t already, check out our podcast for great ideas to stay connected during isolation.