The Rural Doctors Association of Australia is calling on Australia’s governments to once again make face masks mandatory in public settings, as COVID cases skyrocket and hospitals come under significant pressure.
RDAA President, Dr Megan Belot, said that with cases jumping nationally – but only a small proportion of Australians choosing to wear masks when out and about – it’s critical to mandate mask-wearing urgently to slow the spread of the virus.
‘Wearing a mask is such a simple and cost-effective thing to do, yet most Australians have been reluctant to do so without governments making it a requirement,’ said Dr Belot.
‘Peer pressure is playing a big part here in people choosing not to wear masks.
‘Most people seem happy to wear a mask but when they go out somewhere and no-one else is wearing one, it can be a little intimidating being the only person with a mask on.
‘We need to take peer pressure out of the equation. That’s what mandating mask-wearing will do, and there is no time to waste in implementing it,’ she said.
Cases accelerating fast
‘There are currently over 8.8 million cases of COVID in Australia – including more than 50,000 cases reported in the previous 24 hours – and more than 5200 people are hospitalised.
‘Meanwhile, the cumulative number of cases continues to soar,’ said Dr Belot.
‘Hospitals across Australia are groaning under the pressure brought by the thousands of COVID admissions, as well as staff shortages caused by doctors, nurses and other health professionals testing positive to COVID and subsequently needing to isolate.
‘Making mask-wearing mandatory again would at least give our health system a fighting chance and take some pressure off our hospitals.’
Boosters important too
Dr Belot added that Australians should also ensure they are getting their COVID booster doses as soon as they become eligible to do so, as this is an important way to help protect everyone from the impacts of the disease.
‘COVID is still with us, and it is still taking too many lives – including right here in Australia,’ she said.
‘We need to continue to take this disease seriously. That means staying up-to-date with your COVID jabs, and wearing a mask whenever you are out in public.
‘It also means governments continuing to step up bravely to lead the public health response, including mandating mask use over winter to try to reduce the spread of COVID as much as possible,’ said Dr Belot.