One of Australia’s top doctors has doubled down on rejecting renewed calls to bring back Covid masks by describing the advice as ‘extreme’ and believes it wouldn’t make a difference.
Australia has recorded 6,550 Covid cases last week.
The spike has prompted some health officials, including Australian Medical Association Queensland president Maria Boulton to call for the return of mask mandates in high-risk settings such as on planes, in large crowds and medical facilities.
Former Australian deputy chief health officer Dr Nick Coatsworth doesn’t believe we should be overly concerned about the recent spike.
‘The Australian Medical Association has quoted 245 hospitalisations of COVID-19 with this (current) wave in Queensland, but there are over a million admissions to Queensland hospitals every year,’ he said.
‘The suggestion that this is a wave is probably incorrect.
He also believes reinstating mask mandates would have little impact.
Some medical experts have renewed calls for the return of mask mandates in high risk putting setting as Covid cases rise again
‘That’s not going to make any difference at the moment,’ Dr Coatsworth told 2GB’s Ben Fordham on Friday morning.
‘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.
He also slammed advice from scientists recommending 100,000 concertgoers to mask up when Coldplay performs in Perth this weekend.
‘That’s just a crazy thing to do,’ he said.
‘Just sticking a mask on at a Coldplay concert is unlikely to be protective.
‘And number two, the vast majority of people have had Covid, even the people who claim they’ve never had it. The vast majority of people are also vaccinated.
‘COVID-19 is now a milder disease because of what we call herd immunity, we have all been exposed to it.
‘You won’t see many people at Coldplay wearing masks.
Catching up with friends outdoor is the best way to reduce the risk of getting Covid according to Dr Nick Coatsworth
Former Australian deputy chief health officer Nick Coatsworth (pictured) described calls to reinstate mask mandates as crazy
Dr Coastworth isn’t overly concerned about the latest spike but conceded it puts a strain on hospitals.
‘The reason why health departments have put this out is because when we do get an increase in Covid or any respiratory virus, it does puts a strain on hospitals,’ he said.
‘I work in an hospital and you do see the strain but not because people are getting sick from Covid.
‘Very few people are actually getting sick from Covid but it creates an infection control problem where you have to isolate the patients and it created bed pressure.
‘But that’s going to happen for the next 5-10 years with Covid and respiratory viruses and we have to find ways to cope with that.
‘Frankly I was on shift yesterday and we had not a single patient with COVID-19 in our acute medical unit.
Dr. Coatsworth emphasised that despite a minor increase in hospitalisations, there has been a decline in intensive care admissions.
‘It’s important to assure everyone that vaccination is effective.’
The chance of getting Covid outdoors ‘extraordinary difficult, if not impossible,’ according to Dr Nick Coastworth. Pictured are beachgoers at Bondi
‘There’s creative, innovative ways that will allow the community to get on with its business without constant talk of bringing back things that realistically, public health officials aren’t going to bring back.’
Dr Coatsworth echoed the health advice to catch up outdoors where the risk of getting Covid is ‘extraordinary difficult, if not impossible.’
‘It’s always been the right advice, I’m not sure why we didn’t give it at the start of the pandemic,’ he said.
‘You would really have to be on top of someone to catch Covid outdoors.’
Meanwhile, infectious diseases specialist Professor Peter Collignon has made it clear he opposes people being forced by law to wear masks.
‘If at increased risk, or concerned, yes wear a mask. But no mandates.’
Professor Collignon, who is a microbiologist at Canberra Hospital, said there was ‘little or likely no point’ wearing a mask outside.
He added that masks will give ‘some short term protection’ to those who are concerned about short term exposure indoors, but eye protection is also needed.
‘What lands in your eyes goes into your nose,’ the professor said.