Monash MHR Russell Broadbent has urged Gippslanders and indeed all Victorians make sure they are wearing a face mask or covering to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 when outside their own homes.
Wearing a face mask became mandatory for regional Victorians on Sunday night August 2, 2020, and Stage Three restrictions restart in the same areas from midnight tonight, Wednesday August 5, 2020.
Mr Broadbent also reiterated the importance of abiding by the returned Stage Three requirements, especially staying at home, diligent and effective handwashing, maintaining social distance, and being tested for COVID-19 if feeling unwell.
“While the requirement to wear a mask might feel like a significant change to our daily lives at first, wearing a face mask plays an important role in reducing the spread of the coronavirus and further protecting our community,” he said.
“We are fortunate in Gippsland that our local cases of COVID-19 have remained so low compared to metropolitan Melbourne.
“However, we cannot become complacent and need to remain vigilant in maintaining good hygiene and adhering to the health directives from both our Victorian and Commonwealth health departments, including the wearing of face masks,” Mr Broadbent said.
A face mask includes any paper or textile covering designed or made to be worn over the nose and mouth to protect the wearer. It does not have to be medical grade and you can make your own.
“Across my community I am seeing many creative and decorative face masks being made and I encourage everyone to look local when purchasing your face mask to wear,” he said.
“A face covering on its own is not enough to slow the spread of the virus and locals are reminded that keeping 1.5 metres between yourself and others and washing your hands are still the best defences against COVID-19.
“Remember if a face mask is not available other forms of face covering may be used such as a scarf or bandana,” Mr Broadbent said.
“Thank you to all those in our community doing great work at keeping our local case numbers low, keep looking out for one another and remember to adhere to social distancing measures and continue to practice good hand hygiene.”
Free masks soon for vulnerable
Free reusable facemasks will soon be available to vulnerable people and to workers delivering some government-funded services through the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
The DHHS will be distributing 2.1 million reusable face masks across the state to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Each eligible person, including those with diagnosed chronic medical conditions, who live with disability or have substance dependency, will be issued with two reusable masks when supplies arrive at local distribution points.
Orders for the reusable masks have been placed with the DHHS by organisations such as the South Gippsland Shire Council, the South Gippsland Hospital and its associated Community Health Centre in Foster, and Manna Gum Community House, also in Foster.
The DHHS advises that it expects “considerable demand for these [reusable masks] across Victoria” and that distribution points “will receive an initial quantity of reusable masks and a supplementary pack of disposable face masks”.
It requests that “people who are eligible to receive a mask should use a face covering until they receive their reusable mask” while those who “do not meet the eligibility criteria for masks can purchase one themselves, use other face coverings including scarves or bandanas, or make their own cloth masks.”
South Gippsland Shire Council is expecting its first delivery of 4000 masks later this week, which will be distributed to service providers throughout the municipality.
Haberdasheries throughout Victoria, including Sam’s Patch in Foster, are selling the materials for homemade cloth masks almost by the kilometre.
The demand for elastic for the ear loops has also skyrocketed, however woven cotton tape can also be used to hold a mask in place.
Sam’s Patch proprietor Sam Rogers said she and her staff can offer home mask manufacturers plenty of sewing tips as well as a simple pattern for a good, serviceable face mask.
South Gippsland Shire Council is also providing fabric to district sewing circles and craftspeople throughout the municipality who are producing face masks to be given out to people within their local communities.
The DHHS recommends that mask makers use three 25-centimetre square layers of fabric; one of pure cotton to go closest to the wearer’s face, a polyester/cotton blend in the middle, and moisture-resistant polypropylene from a “green” shopping bag or sports garments on the outside.
People who have been wearing masks for extended periods already during the COVID-19 pandemic, including health professionals and support staff, have found ways to make their surgical-grade face masks more comfortable.
Medical and nursing staff, ambulance officers, and other front-line emergency workers have devised a variety of ways of easing the constant pressure exerted by the elastic loops on the backs of their ears.
Anecdotally, the ear loops have caused skin blistering and even sores, as well as headaches and coughs.
One easy method of making the mask more pleasant to wear requires a connector made of a short length of one-or-so-centimetre-wide elastic or a small piece of knitted material with a button sewn on either end.
The connector is placed at the back of the wearer’s head and the ear loops are hooked over the buttons.
Bobby pins and hair slides and combs may also be used in the same way, to keep the loops away from the ears.
Buy a mask
Disposable masks are available to buy from local pharmacies and supermarkets and reusable masks from other local shops.
THE Foster RSL has washable masks for sale in large and extra-large sizes at $10 each.
Contact Brian on 0428 176 566 to arrange a purchase.