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Mask or no mask? Leading health professionals give varying opinions as coronavirus risk grows

Doctors are calling on the federal government to allow GP clinics access to the nation’s emergency medical mask stockpile, as fears of coronavirus surge.

The masks, which help stop patients with the virus from spreading the disease, are in critically short supply due to the bushfire crisis.

But with five confirmed cases of the deadly virus in Australia, the President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Dr Harry Nespolon, has urged the government to release any N95 masks it has stockpiled.

“I understand the government might have a bit of a stockpile, and if they do they should really be distributing them to general practitioners in places like Melbourne, where there are direct flights from China into the city,” he told 3AW’s Ross and John.

“I could be completely wrong but I thought the government has several million.

Dr Nespolon said many of his staff have tried to acquire masks on their own, but they’re sold out everywhere.

“I’ve had some colleagues trying to get some,” he said.

“I would like my staff to be able to wear masks if we have patients who are potentially at risk of the coronavirus.”

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However, Dr Isaac Bogoch disagrees.

The Infectious Diseases Specialist from Torronto General Hospital in Canada said face masks do second to nothing in preventing the spread of the virus.

Dr Bogoch who has just co-authored a paper on the potential of global spread of coronavirus told Neil Mitchell “it’s not going to do anything”.

“If someone is sick with an infection and they wear a mask, that may help prevent them from spreading the infection to other people.” explained Dr Bogoch.

“But if people are uninfected and walking around with these little flimsy masks on, it’s not going to protect them from anything.

“Australia has only five cases, this is ridiculous we don’t need to be wearing masks at all.”

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Image: Justin Sullivan / Getty

Fifth case of deadly coronavirus confirmed in Australia