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NSW Health to monitor use of masks before imposing mandate

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Brad Hazzard has said a mask mandate is “not the solution” for stopping the spread of Sydney’s Northern Beaches cluster.

Health authorities in New South Wales will monitor the use of masks before making a decision on whether mandatory face coverings are necessary in limiting the spread of COVID-19.

"We are considering at all times additional measures that need to be in place," NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Chant said.

"The feedback I've had from the Northern Beaches community is that everyone is being very compliant with the requirements around wearing masks indoors.

READ MORE: NSW records 15 new cases of COVID-19 linked to Northern Beaches cluster

"Our messaging masks has been consistent and I've noticed that we will be monitoring the uptake of mask wearing. But sites we're particularly concerned about is indoor venues. So when you're going into an indoor venue, please wear a mask. This will just help us gain greater control in the case that there is an unrecognised person out there that has the virus."

The state's Health Minister said a mask mandate is "not the solution" for stopping the spread of Sydney's Northern Beaches COVID-19 cluster.

Mr Hazzard's comments come amid growing calls to make them mandatory in Sydney as the number of cases connected to the Northern Beaches cluster grows to 83.

READ MORE: Cops catch pair from Sydney's west allegedly travelling into lockdown zone

"Your assumption is that masks are the solution, they are not," Mr Hazzard told Today.

"There is a whole set of things that I have highlighted which is much more important as far as the public health advice goes.

"What we need to do is recognise that we as a country are doing extraordinarily well. We have had our ups and downs but just stick with the advice that comes from public health."

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People are seen lining up at a COVID-19 testing centre at the East Sydney Community and Arts Centre in Darlinghurst, Sydney. Sydney's northern beaches is on lockdown, as a cluster of COVID-19 cases continues to grow causing other Australian states and territories to impose restrictions on travel ahead of the Christmas holidays.

Infectious disease expert Associate Professor Sanjaya Senanayake this morning told Today masks were a key part of limiting community transmission.

"We know that is a safe, effective, and cheap measure in reducing the transmission of COVID," Mr Senanayake said.

However Mr Hazzard said while masks were important, a mandate would only create additional problems for other members of the community.

"In NSW, we have taken the view that the masks should be encouraged strongly but particularly on buses and areas like that we are concerned that if we make them compulsory then the bus drivers become the policemen," he said.

READ MORE: Sydney on edge as government backs NSW in cluster fight

Mr Hazzard said everyone in Sydney should focus on adhering to the current advice from NSW health.

"Just be careful and of course don't forget the basic rules. I think some people have forgotten them," he said.

"If you are out and about make sure that distance is there. Also the hand hygiene.

"Most people were carrying around their hand hygiene until two months ago, get back to that. Wash your hands or use the hand hygiene product and of course the crucial one, any symptoms at all of flu like illness, cold issue, cough, sore throat, whatever it may be, get tested."

Source: 9News

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