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Do face masks work to stop the spread of infectious disease?

The Federal Government announced this morning it would release one million medical masks from it’s stockpile in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The nation’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy says the masks are a precaution and only people with symptoms should wear them.

Director of Infectious Disease at Austin Health Profession Lindsay Grayson says not all masks are the same and the surgical masks people may be familiar with are in fact designed to stop surgeons spreading diseases  to patients, not to stop diseases getting in.

“The key thing in Australia at the moment is that we’ve not had any secondary cases…. which means we’ve not had any spread in Australia,” he said.

“It’s not a practical option for the average person to walk around the street in an N95 mask where they’re trying to protect themselves. If they decide to wear a surgical mask like we’re seeing in some areas of China, it may do some good but there’s no studies to show that in terms of protection the wearer.”

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Liam Bartlett