Doctors are pushing for indoor mask mandates to be introduced as COVID-19 numbers surge in several Australian states.
Earlier this week Australian Medical Association (AMA) president Omar Khorshid said Western Australia’s health system would not be able to cope with a rapidly approaching 25,000-cases-a-day figure.
And in Victoria, the state branch of the AMA said people should voluntarily wear masks at the supermarket, theatres, concerts and football stadiums.
Infectious diseases professor at the Australian National University Sanjaya Senanayake acknowledged the public may not be so willing.
“I think the public are fed up of masks, of COVID,” Senanayake said.
“Indoor mask mandates are really a very minor intervention. The most important thing is for people to have their booster.”
He warned the disease in people with mild symptoms during their infection can have lasting effects.
“Just because you don’t end up in hospital with an illness doesn’t mean you can’t be sick,” he said.
“It’s in all our interests not to get COVID.”
A rise in COVID-19 cases comes as the first major flu season in three years takes hold.
As the nation heads into winter, influenza is spreading fast around the country.
In Victoria, 20 people died with COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.
Another 13,694 new cases were diagnosed.
Yesterday, five people died and 11,464 new cases were reported.
In NSW, 16 people have died with the disease. In the past 24 hours, 10,972 people have tested positive.
That is a sharp jump from yesterday, where four people died and 8286 people tested positive.
Fewer Aussies are wearing facemasks amid the COVID-19 pandemic. according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Only 78 per cent of Australians wore a face mask in the last week, the ABS found, down from 98 per cent in February this year.