Flawed messaging blamed for mask mistrust and confusion
Health experts are debunking myths about cloth masks as some Melburnians retaliate against a mask mandate.
Early in the pandemic, Australian and international advisory bodies recommended against mandatory mask-wearing.
UNSW Professor of Global Biosecurity Raina MacIntyre told Deborah Knight fears of a shortage of surgical masks for frontline workers influenced that early messaging.
She said it has since become clear that non-surgical cloth masks can still be effective as long as they meet several requirements.
“You need at least three layers. The outer layer should be water-resistant.
“It needs to fit reasonably well around your face … and you have to wash it every day after use.”
Professor MacIntyre said consistent advice from health professionals and governments is key to avoiding a further backlash against mask-wearing.
“We’ve had some very negative messaging around face masks, and that hasn’t helped.
“Of course you can expect people to be confused, and not very trusting when the messages keep changing.
“It’s important to have some very positive messages.
“Wearing a mask might actually make the difference between going into a full lockdown and not.”
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