Covid-19

New mask mandate introduced for millions of Australians

Mask mandates have been reintroduced in hospitals across New South Wales as Covid-19 case numbers continue to rise – as top doctors call for calm and urge residents to continue life as normal.

NSW Health updated its Covid risk rating to amber on Friday afternoon. This means that masks are required in all areas of public hospitals and health facilities along with limited visitor numbers. 

The state health authority also recommended a return to mask-wearing indoors where people are unable to physically distance and on public transport to stop the spread of the virus.

‘Implementing these changes now means that our staff and the community can look forward to the festive season with greater confidence,’ NSW Health deputy secretary Deb Willcox said.

Mask mandates have been reintroduced in hospitals across New South Wales as Dr Kerry Chant confirms we are entering the fourth wave of Coivd-19

Mask mandates have been reintroduced in hospitals across New South Wales as Dr Kerry Chant confirms we are entering the fourth wave of Coivd-19

‘Family and loved ones can still spend time with patients, however, we do ask people to please limit the number of visitors coming to see patients at any one time.

‘Visitors, as well as staff, will now also need to wear a mask in all areas of a hospital or health service, not just in the patient areas, as was previously the requirement.’

Willcox said the change to the mask rules was due to increasing numbers of health staff off work with Covid or waiting for a test result. 

‘As of 16 November, there were 1,089 health care workers in isolation up from 645 the previous week,’ she said.

‘This is an important indicator for our health system that we need to find the right balance with simple measures that can help us avoid more significant changes.’

The new rule comes after New South Wales Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant warned the state is entering its fourth wave of Covid.

NSW recorded 22,672 new infections this week, a 52 per cent increase. 

There were 1,148 people admitted to hospital, with 39 deaths and 37 people in ICU.

‘The wave is taking off with some trajectory, it will be quite a steep wave and hopefully the decline will be equally as steep.

‘That’s why it’s important the community takes these protective measures now and I can’t stress the urgency — if you’re going to get vaccinated do it immediately.’

Dr Chant says modelling suggests the new wave of cases would subside by Christmas.

Premier Dominic Perrottet says individuals should take personal responsibility if they test positive to the virus

Premier Dominic Perrottet says individuals should take personal responsibility if they test positive to the virus

‘There is a sense that the wave may well peak before Christmas and we may be on the decline,’ she said.

‘But the message is clear … this is an increased risk period for COVID so please now is the time to take those protective behaviours.’

Premier Dominic Perrottet says individuals should take personal responsibility if they test positive to the virus. 

‘If you’re sick you stay at home, if you’re not sick you go to work and you enjoy everything,’ he said.

‘We need to live alongside the virus, it’s not going away. I’ve been saying that for months.

‘We always expected there to be an increase in cases over summer, that was the expectation from National Cabinet a few months ago.’

Nation Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly on Monday said this fourth Omicron wave wreaking havoc on Australia is set to hit its peak in the coming weeks and will likely decline sharply – as medical data from Singapore’s recent wave suggests. 

‘While evidence is still emerging, the experience to date with these two variants overseas is that they do not appear to pose a greater risk of severe illness and death – and that the Covid-19 vaccines provide good protection against these outcomes,’ he said.

‘The overseas experience is that these new variants have driven increases in case numbers – and hospitalisations at a rate proportionate to these increases – because of their ability to evade the immunity provided by prior infection and vaccination.

‘It’s therefore timely to focus on the actions we can all take to reduce the threat of these new variants, keep the pressure off our health care workers and hospitals and continue to look forward to our summer plans.’

Australia’s top doctors are calling for calm amid the latest Covid wave, urging them to continue life as normal. 

Deakin University epidemiology chair Catherine Bennett told Daily Mail Australia: ‘Get on and do your normal things.’ 

‘Panic never helps is my view. Being aware of risk changing and responding to that, and managing it, is the best thing you can do.’

Professor Bennett acknowledged residents should be mindful of the latest wave.

‘We are seeing numbers, particularly hospitalisations, push up across country,’ she said.

Australia is once again in the midst of a massive Covid outbreak and health officials have urged the public to wear face masks indoors and on public transport (pictured, Sydney commuters)

Australia is once again in the midst of a massive Covid outbreak and health officials have urged the public to wear face masks indoors and on public transport (pictured, Sydney commuters)

‘We know from data from overseas, adding Covid variants into the mix pushes up transmission rates. What it means for individuals is that their exposure risk goes up.’

Professor Bennett said it was important residents listened to the advice from health professionals, received their booster, but not to make drastic changes to their lives.

‘This is exactly when we want people to be aware of the changed risk of catching the virus, and use that information to manage their own risk,’ she said.

‘Maybe consider sitting outside of a cafe, instead of inside of one, or wear a face mask when catching public transport.’

The updated risk rating on Covid in New South Wales come as a cruise line has reintroduced mandatory mask wearing on ships after a spike in Covid cases – with health officials across the country recommending face coverings. 

Carnival Cruises management said in a statement that ‘out of an abundance of caution’ masks would return to ‘adapt to the evolving public health situation’. 

Carnival Cruises have reintroduced mandatory mask wearing on ships after a spike in Covid cases

Carnival Cruises have reintroduced mandatory mask wearing on ships after a spike in Covid cases

Passengers must now wear them onboard in all public indoor spaces, outdoors when in large groups where physical distancing isn’t possible and also when they are embarking or disembarking from the ship. 

Carnival Cruise passengers aren’t required to wear masks when they are eating or drinking.

‘We can confirm that mask wearing is being applied on board all Carnival Corporation brand ships operating in Australia and the region as an additional safeguard in light of the current rate of Covid-19 in the general community,’ a Carnival Cruise spokesperson said.

‘The past two years have seen all industries, including ours, strengthen their health and safety protocols. At the same time, a majority of the population is now vaccinated.’

The wave of infections has prompted Aussie rock music legend Jimmy Barnes to cancel a personal appearance in Western Sydney.

The Scottish-born singer was scheduled to sign copies of his new album Blue Christmas at Penrith Panthers Leagues Club on November 26.

But the 66-year-old Cold Chisel founder ditched the gig citing reasons of public safety. 

Jimmy Barnes was scheduled to sign copies of his new album Blue Christmas at Penrith Panthers Leagues Club on November 26. But the 66-year-old Cold Chisel founder ditched the gig citing reasons of public safety

Jimmy Barnes was scheduled to sign copies of his new album Blue Christmas at Penrith Panthers Leagues Club on November 26. But the 66-year-old Cold Chisel founder ditched the gig citing reasons of public safety


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