17 November 2023

WA hospital staff mask up for COVID

Western Australian public hospitals are strengthening mask wearing requirements in response to an increase in COVID-19 infections.

From next Monday 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.

Healthcare facilities will continue to implement infection prevention and control measures and precautions – including wearing P2/N95 masks – when caring for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases.

WA’s Chief Health Officer Dr Andy Robertson said COVID-19 cases had been increasing since early September 2023 – primarily driven by the Omicron XBB variant EG.5.

“It’s an expected part of the ongoing evolution of COVID-19 in the community as people’s immunity wanes over time,” he said.

“Given the increase in COVID hospitalisations and health staff off sick, Health Service Providers have agreed on consistent mask recommendations across our public health system.”

Surgical masks are recommended for staff and visitors in all public hospital clinical areas and staff and visitors are reminded to stay home if sick or recovering from COVID.

Dr Robertson has also advised private hospitals and aged care facilities across WA to consider strengthening mask wearing requirements for staff and visitors.

“COVID is very much still with us and my advice for the community remains the same – stay home if you are sick and do not visit high risk settings such as aged care facilities and hospitals if you have cold or flu symptoms,” he said.

“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.”

Hospital mask requirements will continue to be monitored and reviewed on an ongoing basis.


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