Mask debate: Expert’s advice for Mackay Whitsunday residents
AS demand for face masks begins to grow across Mackay Whitsunday, an infectious diseases expert has weighed in on whether residents should be wearing them.
While masks have become mandatory in parts of Victoria experiencing a deadly second wave of coronavirus, Griffith University Professor Nigel McMillan said Queensland residents should hold off.
"There's no need for anyone in Queensland to be wearing a mask at the moment, masks are really only required when you have sustained community transmission," Prof McMillan said.
"Now that's only Victoria at the moment, and so we wouldn't need to wear masks and the chief health officer has said that.
"If people want to wear masks, then that's no problem at all, they should feel free to do so."
He said masks were just one "weapon" in a line of defences used to limit the number of COVID-19 infections.
"Our best weapons are still physical distancing, hand washing and sneeze etiquette," Prof McMillan said.
Despite not being compulsory in Queensland, rural doctors are asking communities to mask up to keep COVID down.
Rural Doctors Association of Australia president John Hall said wearing a mask was a great way of keeping rural areas protected from the spread of COVID-19.
"Most rural communities are still relatively COVID free and we want to keep them that way," Dr Hall said.
"So instead of waiting for things to get out of hand, now really is the best time to add in that extra layer of protection.
"If you are getting your hair cut? It's a good idea to wear a mask. If you are in the supermarket? Mask. At the pub for a quick drink? Unless the glass is actually at your mouth - wear a mask."
WHAT IS MACKAY'S BIGGEST COVID-19 WEAKNESS?
According to Prof McMillan, areas like Mackay and the Whitsundays are certainly not immune to a second wave of the virus.
"The biggest risk for Mackay is going to be someone who has got themselves into Queensland by bypassing our border security and is in Mackay for several days while infected," he said.
"Our borders are going to be closed - this really is our best weapon to stop the spread from interstate.
"No one wants to go backwards and it honestly only takes one person to do the wrong thing for this to start getting out of hand.
"We've been very lucky so far, we seem to have dodged a bullet with this latest lot of cases."
IS MACKAY'S RISK OF A SECOND WAVE AS HIGH AS OTHER AREAS?
Mackay's biggest coronavirus weakness, infected interstate travellers, is the same for the rest of Queensland.
But Prof McMillan said a potential second wave of the virus would affect the state in different ways.
If a second wave of the virus did occur, he predicted it would behave in a similar way to Victoria's recent outbreak.
"In Victoria, it spread in inner city Melbourne, then in outer Melbourne and then regionally," Prof McMillan said.
"Quite frankly, the most likely scenario if things go badly, which I don't think they will, is you would expect outbreaks in larger population centres like the Gold Coast, Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast before it actually made its way to Mackay, Townsville or Cairns," he said.
"I would expect a pattern based on movement of people and population density.
"Mackay is in a really good spot."