Ignore the on-again, off-again advice: Wear a face mask when out and about

Until we're all vaccinated, wear a mask whenever you're among people.

Until we're all vaccinated, wear a mask whenever you're among people. Photo: Getty

Geez, what a mystery: those people infected with COVID-19 at the footy? They weren’t sitting together. They didn’t know one another. And it happened at the MCG, where only good things happen. How on earth?

For the health authorities, unravelling the chain of transmission is the challenge – and this may, finally, lead to our state and federal governments to accept that aerosol transmission is a thing.

For months the World Health Organisation and the Centers for Disease Control resisted accepting that the coronavirus can be transmitted through the air that we breathe.

Six days ago, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) put out a statement on “National Principles for Infection Prevention and Control in Quarantine” – a document of 3000 words that made no mention of ‘aerosol transmission’.

So while the government continues to be coy on this issue, it’s up to the rest of us to accept that aerosol transmission of the virus is a reality – and to start wearing masks when you’re out and about.

Delta variant more contagious

The Delta variant has put a scare into the population – and the heightened danger it poses to unvaccinated people is that it’s more contagious than the original virus.

The good news about Delta, based on analysis of UK and US hospitalisation records – which are of sufficient number to provide a persuasive argument – is that it’s not more “severe”.

That is, it won’t make you any sicker, or is more likely to put you in hospital, than the virus that originated out of Wuhan more 18 months ago.

But either strain is potentially deadly if you’re not vaccinated.

And because it’s a more contagious strain, you’re more likely to become infected unless you follow social distancing measures, wash your hands and – and perhaps most importantly, wear a mask when you’re around other people.

Citizens should take charge of mask policy

Restrictions imposed by state governments are put in place whenever new cases come to light. Then, when contract tracing and other measures result in the magical “no new cases”, the restrictions are lifted.

One moment you’re required to wear masks indoors – or even outdoors – the next moment you’re free to get about mask-less.

The fact is, with aerosol transmission not yet acknowledged – let alone dealt with as a threat – and with new variants on the boil, common sense says that we need to remain a mask-wearing society until we’re fully vaccinated and have attained her immunity.

This means carrying a mask with you. If the street is empty, then you can probably safely keep it in your pocket. But when you see people up ahead, or gathered together in a park or at a sporting event, say at the MCG, then put it on.

Don’t wait for the government to tell you it’s mask time. Make it your own responsibility.

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