Date published: 
21 July 2020
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

NATALIE BARR:

For more on the COVID crisis, I'm joined by Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Coatsworth. Good morning to you. So it is compulsory to wear masks in Victoria from Thursday morning. We're getting people saying I will not do that. What do you say to them.?

NICK COATSWORTH:

Well for those people in Greater Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, we would say to everybody, it's time to embrace and get used to masks. I'm a doctor, I had to start using masks at one point in my life. It's not an easy thing to cover your face, but it's something that you get used to quickly. And this will help. Community transmission is at the point in Victoria where a mandatory mask use policy is going to help flatten the curve. So it's something that we'd encourage all Victorians down in those affected areas to get on board with.

NATALIE BARR:

What will a mask do? Will it protect you from getting COVID?

NICK COATSWORTH:

It does two things. It stops someone who has COVID and is unaware of it from transmitting it. That's the main role. And because COVID does have this pre-symptomatic period where you're not really sure if you're unwell, then it's critically important for those people to be wearing a mask. It does have an effect for people who don't have COVID to stop them acquiring it, but that needs to be placed within a suite of things, including handwashing, physical distancing where possible, and really only going out where you absolutely have to.

NATALIE BARR:

Because Dr Coatsworth, a lot of people live online these days, and people are saying, look, a month ago, two months ago, three months ago, doctors were saying, don't worry about it. So why the change?

NICK COATSWORTH:

So the change has been the community transmission. The policy itself on masks has not changed. We've always recognised that they can be useful in some situations. We're in that situation now where we've got widespread community transmission in Greater Melbourne and Mitchell Shire where we have to bring every weapon we have to bear on this, including now, mandatory mask wearing.

NATALIE BARR:

So as the disease spreads closer into Sydney- the spread is widespread now across many suburbs, shouldn't New South Wales people be wearing masks?

NICK COATSWORTH:

So we would encourage New South Wales- people in the Sydney metropolitan area, particularly in those hotspots, who cannot socially distance to actually wear masks where social distancing is not possible. That's the current recommendation, and we'll watch closely what the community transmission is to see whether that recommendation needs to change.

NATALIE BARR:

Given the spread of cases along the New South Wales south coast, do you anticipate a spike over the next week or so?

NICK COATSWORTH:

New South Wales Public Health is doing a fantastic job in tracing- in testing and tracing people, working out on the day that they get infected, who their contacts are, and shutting down those chains of transmission. But importantly, the communities behind them as well. The people who got out in Batemans Bay and got themselves tested yesterday. Fantastic demonstration of how the community can get behind their public health unit in New South Wales.

NATALIE BARR:

Yep. So listen to the warnings. Thank you very much for your time, Dr Nick Coatsworth.

NICK COATSWORTH:

Thank you, Nat.

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