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Epidemiologist says masks are effective, but they’re not the most important step to fight COVID-19

Masks become mandatory in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire at 11.59pm on Wednesday night, but an epidemiologist has warned wearing a face covering is not the most important precaution Victorians can take to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Professor of epidemiology at the University of Melbourne, Professor Tony Blakely, says masks will help curb coronavirus cases, but they won’t work on their own.

“Masks are effective, but first of all just keeping physical distance and staying home as much as possible is more important,” he told Neil Mitchell.

“This research that I’ve seen … shows about an 85 per cent reduction in transmission.”

Professor Blakely says we won’t see the impact of mandatory mask-wearing for more than a week, but we should start to see the effect of the second lockdown of Melbourne and Mitchell Shire any day now.

“It takes about 10 days before you see the effect of an intervention put in place,” he said.

“The (case numbers) should be starting to turn and if they’re not we’ve got problems.”

If the number of daily coroanvirus cases doesn’t fall soon, Professor Blakely says Victoria will have serious troubles.

“We’ve only really got one more place to go, which is to a hard lockdown, which would be reducing who is an essential worker … requiring people to stay in their suburb.”

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