Dr. Zac Turner has rejected Australia’s deputy chief medical officer’s advice and says face masks should be mandatory for all Australians if they visit enclosed public spaces, especially supermarkets.
Now he’s teaching Aussies how to make their own face masks using common household items — including a handkerchief, a T-shirt and even a fabric shopping bag.
Australia is currently facing massive shortages of essential medical equipment including masks, with reports that China was stockpiling these items for weeks before Australia woke up to the crisis.
Last week, deputy chief medical officer Professor Paul Kelly stressed that people do not need to wear masks unless they are infectious.
“In terms of mask use in the community, I would stress again, at the moment we do not think that is a good idea, partly because of that constraint supply,” Professor Kelly said in a press conference earlier this week.
Dr Zac Turner, director of Telehealth service ConciergeDoctors.com.au, disagrees with this advice and believes masks should be mandatory for everyone who ventures outside.
He’s not alone. On April 3, America’s leading national health institute, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, announced that it now recommends wearing any type of cloth face mask in public settings, whether or not you’re showing COVID-19 symptoms.
“One of the things I’ve been doing from home is trying to find ways I can help out and stop the spread and flatten the curve of coronavirus,” Dr Turner said in a recent video.
“The countries that have been doing this the best have been mandatorily wearing face masks.
“Whilst we may not have enough (face masks) there’s no excuse for you to not be wearing one in the community,” he told viewers.
He then filmed himself making a face mask using a square of fabric and rubber bands.
Dr Turner used a handkerchief in his demonstration, but he also pointed out that other common items could do the trick.
“This is the back of a recyclable bag. And this is actually a shirt chopped into quarters,” he said, holding them out to the camera.
“And if you fold them up in the right way … they can act as a face mask.”
Dr Turner recommended using materials that were made from cotton.
“They should be 100 per cent cotton because then you can resterilise them,” he said.
“You should be wearing this (mask) whenever you leave the house because it is what can stop the spread to vulnerable people.
“Because you can be contagious long before you know you’ve got it.
“I could be spreading this right now talking up to a couple of metres.”
Dr Turner was very careful to emphasise that face masks are a secondary precaution with social distancing taking the cherry on top.
“Cloth mask wearing only being a secondary support measure,” he said.
Dr Turner believes while many other countries have adopted mandatory face masks, Australia seemed to be “lagging behind”.
“We know COVID-19 can spread through droplets released when an infected person sneezes or coughs,” he said.
“These droplets are able to hang in the air temporarily. Studies show that any type of mask, from surgical to homemade, confer some form of protection against this type of contamination.”
However, medical experts also pointed out that face masks can provide a false sense of security and could lead to an increased risk of people touching their faces.
Deputy CMO Professor Kelly said that wearing masks when you don’t need them is actually quite dangerous.
“Using a mask incorrectly can actually make it more dangerous,” he said.
“So for example, if you are not used to wearing a mask, it can become quite uncomfortable, even claustrophobic.
“And indeed, it can become quite itchy underneath the mask. So touching a surface with the virus, scratching yourself underneath the mask, can in fact increase your risk rather than decrease your risk.”
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