In an effort to combat the spread of Covid-19, authorities in Australia’s Victoria state have announced that free masks will be distributed to the community.
According to the announcement, more than 3 million free N95 and KN95 masks will be distributed to the public over the next four to six weeks through state-run testing sites and community health services across the state, according to the Xinhua news agency.
Everyone who comes in for a free rapid antigen or PCR test will receive a box of 10 N95 masks, as well as instructions on how to wear them properly to reduce transmission.
“Wearing a mask, staying up to date with your vaccinations and ensuring indoor areas are well ventilated are all steps Victorians and businesses can take to manage their own Covid-19 risk this winter and into the future,” the state’s Minister for Health Mary-Anne Thomas.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), which represents the nation’s general practitioners, praised the policy.
The announcement, according to RACGP President Karen Price, shows that the Victoria government is listening to medical experts.
“The expert advice is clear that masks limit community transmission of Covid-19 and other respiratory illnesses including influenza,” she said.
“I know that wearing a mask isn’t fun and can be slightly uncomfortable but remember that taking this small step can help drive down Covid-19 numbers across Victoria.”
The state reported 5,898 cases and 52 deaths from the virus in the previous 24 hours to 10 a.m. Wednesday, some of which were based on historical data from the previous week.
Since the start of the pandemic, the state has lost 4,844 people, the most of any Australian state or territory.
The RACGP has urged states across the country to remain vigilant and combat “Covid complacency,” especially since many health mandates have been removed.