Public transport union wants face masks mandated but experts remain divided

Medical experts remain divided, but would you feel safe catching public transport without a face mask?

22/05/2020 4:00:00 PM

Medical experts remain divided, but would you feel safe catching public transport without a face mask?

Public transport experts are calling for the wearing of cloth masks to be mandated as COVID-19 restrictions ease, but medical experts remain divided on whether they are necessary.

Very large text sizePublic transport experts are calling for the wearing of cloth masks to be mandated on trains, buses and trams as COVID-19 restrictions ease and Australians return to work, but medical experts remain divided on whether they are necessary.

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Professor Dale Fisher, an Australian infectious disease expert based in Singapore – where citizens can be fined for appearing in public without a face mask – said the measure should be part of Australia's COVID-19 recovery plan.Public transport advocates are calling for cloth masks to be worn on buses, trains and trams.

Credit:Christopher Furlong"When the alternative could be a return to lockdown, which nobody wants, then wouldn't you do everything you could do to prevent it?" he said.Victorian Rail, Tram and Bus Union state secretary Luba Grigorovitch said it should be mandatory for all commuters to wear masks on the public transport network.

Advertisement"The RTBU supports calls for clear benchmarks for cleaning and social distancing as well as measures such as the wearing of masks to be mandatory for commuters using public transport," she said.Professor Fisher, who chairs the World Health Organisation's COVID-19 outbreak response steering committee, said international scientific papers showed the coronavirus was being spread by people without symptoms in as many as 40 per cent of cases.

"The peak of the viral shedding is pretty much on the day of symptoms, or a day or two after, so it's very high just before you get symptoms," he said.Australia's chief nurse, Alison McMillan, said on Friday the advice of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee's (AHPPC) infection control group remained that "there is no evidence for the need of general use of masks in the community".

She said while there was evidence in other countries that masks could be useful, "they have got a very different situation about the prevalence of COVID-19 in their community", compared with Australia where there were few active cases.Loading

But Professor Fisher said "you're going to get more cases" once restrictions were lifted.The transport union's call is in line with a growing push from medical professionals around the world for mandatory face masks, including in Australia where the "Masks for All" campaign protests against the official advice they are not needed.

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Associate Professor David Allen, an occupational physician involved in the campaign, said multiple studies around the world showed cloth masks reduced the risk of spreading SARS-CoV-2 through droplets, including by people without symptoms. Read more: The Age »

Yep. Yes I have no other practical option for getting to work so no choice regardless 🤷🏼‍♂️ I have been over the last week and have no problem! Stop scaremongering For goodness sake - Yes. Stop trying to panic the community. I wouldn’t get on public transport without a mask but would like to see masks on PT compulsory! We can’t become complacent just because we’re doing ok! Look at Cedar meats. Several of those situations and we’re screwed....

Yes, yes I would. In fact I'm happy my clinic said don't wear a mask unless you are sick because I finally have a reason to tell others why I'm not wearing a mask. Essential reason XD Been doing it all year Principal health committee healthgovau advice more important than danielbowen views. Don't want to wear a mask as ineffective (by far most important point) and unpleasant. Restrictions early on fine but as Bolt_RSS notes, some now too far. springst auspol theheraldsun

Face masks are only effective if worn properly, just like condoms! Yep 100% the fear campaign that you run is crazy 500 out of 25,000,000 people have it ffs I'd avoid public transport if possible. But yes I'd wear a face mask. Remember, it's surfaces too you have to be careful about. A mask should be worn more So to protect others from people sneezing and spitting while speaking

No would rather walk than get on public transport or a plane until either a vaccine is found or we have zero cases for three months For sheer piece of mind, wear masks across the board. If that’s what it takes to ease fears and give comfort, it’s a small price to pay. Just do it. I think they should prove they are safe by catching a crowded train for a week.

The purpose of the masks that are commercially available isn’t to protect you, the user, from the virus. It’s to protect other people FROM you if you’re a-symptomatic. But yeah, getting onto a packed train in rush hour has 0 appeal right now - masks or no. A fave mask doesn’t t cost much but can potentially help contain the spread. Why not!

Not if anyone else is wearing a mask. They are the infected! What is the harm wearing them if it protects others? I personally feel safer knowing people aren’t going to sneeze or cough on me. Sometimes the good of the many is more important than the good of the few... Yes I wore a mask when I was diagnosed with influenza A in a NYC hospital on holiday with my family. I wore it so my children would not get sick on the advice of hospital doctors. My children did not wear masks, only I did to protect them. Masks are for the sick not the healthy.

Do you mean face masks like these? Yeah im happy to catch public transport without a face mask but thanks anyway may i suggest public transport vehicles be cleaned properly and regularly too. it is hygiene too or ban eating , drinking on them. if we want to use Singapore as example, do it all the way not pick what you want. does Professor Fisher drive or take PT? density is different.

No. I have been wearing a mask on trains since the middle of January. Yes No way in the world is someone going to tell me I have to wear a fucking 'facemask' on a tram, bus or train. I would rather walk, use a bike or worse case, use uber or taxi to get around. No Would you feel safe catching public transport if you’re off your face?

Of course because the face masks don't do anything except offer 'psychological' protection. (Facemasks and C19) is to (chainmail fencing and mosquitos) for goodness sakes. Really mandatory to wear a facemask? our own form of burqa for public transport -no thanks Report Taiwan's results FFS! Just no to public transport. Full stop. Not until we’re at zero new cases. It’s the reason I isolated before my work said it’s ok to. Use the MCG. car park in Melb to let people drive in. Turn Albert Park into a parking lot. We can walk from there to Melb CBD.

To be slightly sarcastic experts and many non experts hold a perspective that SARS-CoV-2 and Covid-19 are liken to being virological\\coronavirus radioactive elements. And this is one of the main underlying drivers on how we think and attempt to maintain a safe environment? A mask protects others if you sneeze or cough. Not so much by them wearing it, but by you wearing it. You can buy a cool cotton one on EBay for about $5.

According to the esteemed Mayo Clinic; 'face masks combined with other preventive measures, such as frequent hand-washing and social distancing, help slow the spread of the disease.' . . .Particularly given the issue of asymptomatic persons. Be mandatory if you don't want to be nominated for The Darwin Awards

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