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.
‘I haven’t had Covid. It’s not luck – it’s because I’ve been careful to wear a mask when I’m out and about,’ Dr Hyde told Daily Mail Australia.
‘The way to avoid Covid is to think of it like cigarette smoke. Covid builds up in the air indoors. But just like smoke, we can get rid of it by opening windows to bring in fresh air.
‘We can also use air purifiers to clean the air inside. If we’re in a space where we can’t open the windows, a mask can help us stay safe.’
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
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.
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
‘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.
‘I think a lot of governments believed Covid was going to turn into something like the flu and it would only spread in the winter. But Covid is a very different kind of virus.
‘It’s not seasonal. There’s just this high level of transmission all year round. We probably need to be offering people a booster twice a year,’ she said.
The academic said vaccines have helped to blunt the worst of Covid. ‘We don’t see so many people ending up on ventilators anymore. That’s a fantastic outcome, but unfortunately there’s still some risk.
‘About one in every 20 people who get infected will develop long Covid. It can leave people feeling short of breath and can cause problems with their memory and concentration, which can really impact their quality of life,’ she said.
Dr Hyde said the world needs to find ways that slow the spread of Covid but don’t stop people from going about their life.
‘Bringing fresh air inside and using air purifiers are a great way to do this. I’d like to see governments step up and subsidise the cost of air purifiers for small businesses.’
Dr Hyde said the world needs to find ways that slow the spread of Covid but don’t stop people from going about their life (masked beachgoers are pictured)
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.