PM: ‘Wearing a mask doesn’t protect you’
Scott Morrison has warned Australians wearing a mask won't stop them from catching the coronavirus, adding there is only one reason non-health professionals should use one.
During a press conference this afternoon, the Prime Minister said the National Cabinet had received advice from the medical expert panel that wearing masks are "not necessary".
He said the main reason someone would wear a mask was if they were ill and they wanted to prevent others from getting sick.
"It's important to note that the wearing of such a mask does not protect you from an infection, but if you are displaying respiratory symptoms then it is, at best, a measure that prevents you transferring it to others," Mr Morrison told reporters.
"It's not about protecting you from infection, but that's why, when people were leaving airports and things of that nature, they were wearing it to prevent the transmission."
Chief medical officer Brendan Murphy agreed with Mr Morrison's comments, saying the non-medical face masks many people are wearing could provide a false sense of security.
"The PM also mentioned the discussion on what we're calling non-medical face masks, the lower-quality masks that a lot of people feel the need to wear in the community," he said.
"We're saying again that they are not recommended. We have very low case numbers in Australia, and these masks often aren't of particularly good quality, and they often provide a false sense of security and make people not practice the social distancing measures that we want.
"So, we are not recommending the general community wear masks. We have been saying that consistently through the pandemic."
This advice is in line with recommendations from the World Health Organisation, which advises people to only wear a mask if you have COVID-19 symptoms or looking after someone who may have COVID-19.
Deputy chief medical officer Paul Kelly also urged against the general public wearing face masks if they are healthy, saying using a mask incorrectly can make it "more dangerous".
"So for example, if you are not used to wearing a mask, it can become quite uncomfortable, even claustrophobic," he said during a press conference.
"And indeed, it can become quite itchy underneath the mask. So touching a surface with the virus, scratching yourself underneath the mask, can in fact increase your risk rather than decrease your risk."
Prof Kelly stressed that people do not need to wear masks unless they are infectious.
"In terms of mask use in the community, I would stress again, at the moment we do not think that is a good idea, partly because of that constraint supply," he said.
"But also the effectiveness in relation to people walking around with masks. The key point there - masks can be useful to stop the spread from a person with the disease to other people. If the mask is used correctly, that's true."
He said medical grade masks should be reserved for healthcare, aged care and disability workers.
"Please don't wear those masks. Leave them for the people that really need them," he said.