Mask mandates are back on the cards as COVID-19, flu spikes in Australia

Earlier this week, Australian Medical Association (AMA) President Omar Khorshid said Western Australia’s health system would not be able to cope with a figure fast approaching 25,000 cases a day.

And in Victoria, the state branch of the AMA said people should voluntarily wear masks in supermarkets, theatres, concerts and football stadiums.

Doctors across Australia are pushing for mask mandates to be introduced indoors. (Getty)

Australian National University infectious disease professor Sanjaya Senanayake acknowledged that the public may not be so willing.

“I think the public is sick of masks, of COVID,” Senanayake said.

“Indoor mask mandates are really a very small intervention.

“The most important thing is that people have their reinforcement.”

He warned that the disease in people with mild symptoms during infection can have long-lasting effects.

“Just because you don’t end up in the hospital with a disease doesn’t mean you can’t be sick,” he said.

“It’s in everyone’s interest not to get COVID.”

Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews adjusts his mask during a press conference last year.
Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews adjusts his mask during a press conference last year. (Getty)

A surge in COVID-19 cases comes as the first major flu season in three years takes hold.

As the nation heads into winter, influenza is spreading rapidly across the country.

In Victoria, 20 people have died from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.

Another 13,694 new cases were diagnosed.

Yesterday five people died and 11,464 new cases were reported.

In NSW, 16 people have died with the disease.

In the last 24 hours, 10,972 people have tested positive.

That’s a sharp jump from yesterday, where four people died and 8,286 people tested positive.

Fewer Australians are wearing face masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic. according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Just 78 per cent of Australians wore a face mask in the past week, ABS found, down from 98 per cent in February this year.

Gallery: Spanish flu, the 1919 pandemic

Meanwhile, of those tested for COVID-19, 96% used a rapid antigen test, up from 90% in March 2022.

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