on air now

‘You’re just wasting them’: Australians urged not to wear masks despite warnings of coronavirus pandemic

Australia’s chief medical officer has urged Australians not to wear protective masks, while warning there is a “strong likelihood” of coronavirus becoming a global pandemic.

“A pandemic is not inevitable, but we’ve always said there’s a strong likelihood,” Australian Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.

His call echoed one made by Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton at the weekend.

“There are a number of other countries showing sustained transmission, or certainly community transmission,” Mr Murphy said.

“If a global pandemic occurs, so that you have sustained community transmission in several countries, it becomes very difficult, almost impossible to prevent it spreading to most countries of the world.

“We need to prepare and that’s exactly what we are doing.”

Mr Murphy said it will be several weeks, or possibly even months, before the risk of a global pandemic passes.

If Australia experiences a mass coronavirus outbreak, Mr Murphy said our health system will be “completely refigured” temporarily and elective surgeries cancelled.

But Australians have been urged not to wear protective masks at this stage, unless they’ve recently travelled to China or come in close contact with a confirmed coronavirus case.

“One of the things that is of concern right around the world is the availability of masks,” Mr Murphy said.

“Please don’t go and use masks walking around the street. There is no point at the moment. You’re just wasting them.

“We might need masks in the future, don’t wear them now.”

Press PLAY below for more.

Image: Anadolu Agency / Getty