Huge concern over crucial mask shortage

Doctors have sounded the alarm over a shortage of special masks needed for Covid protection with shoppers pouncing on another crucial item.

A rush for the public to secure N95 face masks has left some doctors in the lurch as demand outstrips supply.

The chaos comes as people attempt to dodge the virus in Victoria and New South Wales as daily case tallies hit tens of thousands a day — this time with no restrictions.

N95s are made out of synthetic plastic fibre polypropylene and offer more protection than commonly worn cloth masks due to how they contour to the face.

Despite the state government advising all medical professionals to opt for an N95, general practitioners say they have been left without steady supply, even as infections surge.

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Victorian chair Anita Munoz said the sector has been ignored by the government, despite setting the N95 guidelines.

“At RACGP Victoria, we received multiple reports, all across the state in different regions, that general practice couldn’t get any N95 masks,” she told The Age.

However, despite the lack of supply for those on the frontline the surge of the masks’ everyday use has not been linked to any specific Australian public health advice.

In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is considering changing guidelines to include only N95s instead of standard cloth masks.

N95 masks filter out or capture about 95 per cent of airborne particles and are made from multi-layered interwoven material.

Surgical masks can also do the job, if they fit well, but gaps at the side dramatically reduce their effectiveness.

A packet of 50 standard surgical masks can be bought online for just $20 while N95s can cost $69 for a packet of 20.

Originally published as Push to wear N95 masks leaves GPs in short supply

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