Masks should be made mandatory in NSW as soon as possible, Professor Sanjaya Senanayake, Associate Professor of Infectious Disease, said this morning.
His call for a mandate comes as contact tracers rush to get to the top of the Avalon cluster in the Northern Beaches, which has 68 confirmed cases linked to it.
In an attempt to contain the outbreak, NSW Health has imposed a five-day hard lockdown for people living between the Spit Bridge and Manly and introduced restrictions on household gatherings and hospitality venues across Greater Sydney.
Mr Senanayake suggests that the state should go one step further and make wearing masks compulsory.
“We know that is a safe, effective, and cheap measure in reducing the transmission of COVID,” he said.
“Masks should be made mandatory. We know from earlier in the year when masks were recommended, not mandated, a third of people wore masks.
“If you mandate it it is far likely to get a higher level of compliance. It is safe, effective and cheap and when we don’t need masks any more you don’t wear them.”
Mr. Senanayake is optimistic that the outbreak could be contained, but said that the next few days will be crucial in limiting the spread.
“NSW Health has a great track record in controlling clusters of COVID and they have been doing the right things and responded quickly so far, but COVID is really an unknown entity,” he said.
“It will be these next few days that will dictate the direction of the outbreak. I don’t think anyone really knows. We have to see what the numbers are.”