The state of Western Australia is bringing back mask mandates at public hospitals from Nov. 20.
All staff and patients will now have to wear surgical masks in high-risk hospital clinical areas and in critical care settings.
The decision has been made "based on the latest health advice" after a rise in COVID hospitalisations, WA Labor Premier Roger Cook has indicated.
"It's a simple measure that will reduce the spread of COVID-19 and help keep our most vulnerable safe," he said.
The Western Australian premier said the increasing number of COVID-19 cases was leading to a "rise in COVID hospitalisations" and health staff taking days off sick.
"We need to do what we can to make sure we're keeping each other safe—especially our most vulnerable," he said.
"That's why, based on the latest health advice, from Monday, Nov. 20, staff and patients must wear surgical masks in high-risk hospital clinical areas—including haematology, oncology, organ transplant, and renal dialysis—and around vulnerable patients in critical care settings like intensive care units.
COVID-19 Cases in WAWestern Australian Chief Health Officer Dr. Andy Robertson said COVID-19 cases have been "increasing since early September" driven by Omicron variants XX band EG.5.
He said health service providers have "agreed on consistent mask recommendations across our public health system," given the rise in COVID patients in hospitals.
Dr. Robertson recommended people "get a booster COVID-19 vaccination" and wear a mask.
"Consider wearing a mask in crowded indoor settings or where physical distancing is not possible and get a booster COVID-19 vaccination—particularly if you have complex health issues or are over 65," he said.
Mask Calls 'Misplaced,' Says ExpertIn Queensland, Chief Health Officer Dr. John Gerrard resisted pressure to reinstate a mask mandate recently. This followed calls from the Queensland Australian Medical Association (AMA) for people to "put a mask on" before Christmas.
Amid this speculation, former Australian Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nick Coatsworth described calls for masks as "misplaced."
Dr. Coatsworth said these calls distract from "more innovative solutions" to relieving hospital and bed pressures, such as virtual care clinics and hospitals in the home.