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Monday, December 11, 2023

Expert who has never caught Covid tells Aussies to wear face masks every time they leave the house – amid fresh mandate in one state


A leading epidemiologist who has never caught Covid-19 has advised Australians to wear face masks every time they leave the house to avoid catching the virus. 

The warning from University of Western Australia epidemiologist Zoe Hyde comes as the same state reintroduced face mask rules at Perth public hospitals on Monday. 

‘It’s a very simple principle. If you don’t breathe the virus in you’re not going to get sick,’ Dr Hyde told WA Today

She also said the currently available Covid-19 vaccinations are ‘out of date’ and the government should speed up the process of rolling out new updated vaccines ‘because they will offer much better protection from infection’. 

A recent surge in Covid-19 cases – Australia’s eighth wave of the virus – prompted the Western Australian government to reintroduce surgical mask wearing in high-risk clinical areas of public hospitals. 

Dr Zoe Hyde,who has never caught Covid-19 has advised Australians to wear face masks every time they leave the house if they want to stay Covid-free

These include wards where vulnerable patients are being treated and intensive care, haematology, oncology, organ transplant and renal dialysis units. 

‘We need to do what we can to make sure we’re keeping each other safe – especially our most vulnerable,’ WA Premier Roger Cook said.

‘It’s a simple measure that will reduce the spread of Covid-19 and help keep our most vulnerable safe.’

Mr Cook, who contracted Covid-19 earlier in November following a trip to Japan,  said it was important to take care.

‘This is an expected part of the ongoing evolution of Covid-19 in the community, as people’s immunity wanes over time,’ he said.

‘My advice remains the same – stay home if you are sick, wash or sanitise your hands regularly and cover your mouth when you cough. 

‘Do not visit high-risk settings such as aged-care facilities or hospitals if you have cold or flu symptoms.’

‘It’s an expected part of the ongoing evolution of Covid-19 in the community as people’s immunity wanes over time,’ he said. 

WA’s Chief Health Officer Dr Andy Robertson said Covid-19 cases had been increasing since early September.

‘Given the increase in Covid-19 hospitalisations and health staff off sick, health service providers have agreed on consistent mask recommendations across our public health system.’

Surgical masks will also be recommended for staff and visitors in all public hospital clinical areas.

Dr Robertson said private hospitals and aged care facilities should also consider bolstering their mask-wearing rules for staff and visitors.

A recent surge in Covid cases - Australia's eighth wave of the virus - prompted the Western Australian government to reintroduce surgical mask wearing in high-risk clinical areas of public hospitals. A woman wearing a face mask is pictured

A recent surge in Covid cases – Australia’s eighth wave of the virus – prompted the Western Australian government to reintroduce surgical mask wearing in high-risk clinical areas of public hospitals. A woman wearing a face mask is pictured 

‘Covid-19 is very much still with us and my advice for the community remains the same – stay home if you are sick and do not visit high-risk settings such as aged care facilities and hospitals if you have cold or flu symptoms,’ he said.

Dr Hyde, though, said governments had become complacent about the dangers of the virus.

‘There’s this hope that Covid-19 is sort of just going to turn into something like a common cold, and we’re just going to have one Covid-19 season per year. Clearly that’s not what’s happened,’ she said. 

Former Australian deputy chief health officer Dr Nick Coatsworth claimed reinstating mask mandates would have little impact.

‘That’s not going to make any difference at the moment,’ Dr Coatsworth told 2GB on Friday.

‘If you say ‘Look, wear masks in some situations but not others, don’t socially distance and go about your business’, then all the masks are doing is polluting the environment.’

‘We need to be smarter about how we manage this.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU TEST POSITIVE TO COVID-19

While isolating is no longer mandatory, it’s still important to remain socially distanced around others – especially if they are high-risk or vulnerable. 

People experiencing symptoms like a cough, sore throat, fever, runny nose, achey muscles and a sore back should stay home and get plenty of rest. 

Those with infections should wear masks around others and avoid high-risk settings like hospitals, aged-care facilities and schools. 

They should also stay hydrated, eat a healthy diet, get plenty of rest and ensure their room has good air circulation.  

Experts have recommended people form a plan for the festive period and stock up on antivirals so they are prepared. 

People can also contact their GP to find out if they are eligible for a booster. 



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