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Face coverings: Infectious diseases expert questions Victoria’s mask strategy

Victoria is tightening its mask rules, with face shields, bandanas and scarves set to no longer be deemed adequate, but an infectious diseases expert has questioned how appropriate the state’s mask strategy is.

There is a two-week grace period, then those without fitted masks which cover both the nose and mouth may face fines.

Professor of infectious diseases at the ANU Medical School, Peter Collignon, questioned whether mandatory mask-wearing outside of the home is necessary.

“Whether you need a blanket rule for months and months that if you’re outside you need to wear a mask … well that may be debatable,” he told Neil Mitchell.

“In tight situations, public transport, indoors … you need masks. But do you need it everywhere?

“If you don’t do the basics … masks won’t necessarily make that much difference.”

Professor Collignon cast doubt on how effective fabric face masks are.

“The available evidence is that the cloth masks and the bandanas probably have some benefit, but not as much as the surgical masks,” he said.

“The trouble is there’s not quality control … some of them are probably very good.

“Some of them have these exit valves on the side. Now, that actually ruins or decreases the ability for you to protect others. In fact you’re almost getting a jet stream of your bugs, if you’re infected, going out to others.”

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