Wednesday 10 August 2022 07:43 AM Dan Andrews photo makes a top doctor furious as new mask ruling is introduced trends now
One of Australia's top doctors has called out an error in a seemingly ordinary photo of Daniel Andrews as the Victorian Premier announces N95 masks will be handed out to the public for free.
Mr Andrews was seen proudly posing in one of the surgical masks alongside Chris Turner, the deputy CEO of Cohealth, a community healthcare service funded by the Victorian government.
The service has been tasked with helping hand out the masks to vulnerable Australians as part of the plan announced on Tuesday.
Former deputy chief health officer Dr Nick Coatsworth was quick to share his critique of Mr Turner's mask technique.
'A couple of questions: does the gent on the right [Mr Turner] know that wearing an N95 with a beard means it is no longer an N95?,' he asked.
'And, what is the fit test pass rate for the N95's being offered free to the public?'
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews was seen posing in one of the surgical masks alongside Deputy CEO of Cohealth Chris Turner (right) on Tuesday
Dr Nick Coatsworth was quick to point out a mistake with Mr Turner's mask wearing technique
Evidence suggests that beards can cause an impaired seal on COVID-19 masks, including N95s
Dr Coatsworth asked if Mr Turner knew that wearing an N95 with a beard 'means it is no longer an N95 mask' and therefore can't provide optimal protection against germs
Beards and facial hair can cause an impaired seal on N95 masks, which in turn can put its wearer and others at an increased risk of transmission, according to the NSW Covid-19 Critical Intelligence Unit.
'In all seriousness, if you are in a vulnerable group and avail yourself of these masks, please check out how to do a proper fit check,' Dr Coatsworth explained.
When worn correctly, the masks work to filter out very fine particles from the air and help to block germs from reaching the wearer's mouth and nose.
Optimal use of the masks depends on a tight seal with the wearer's skin to provide the best protection, NSW Health says.
The Covid-19 pandemic has seen large numbers of health workers ditch their beards for a clean shave to receive the best protection from N95 surgical masks (pictured, Mr Andrews and Mr Turner arrive at a press conference on Tuesday)
'A couple of questions: does the gent on the right know that wearing an N95 with a beard means it is no longer an N95?,' Dr Coatsworth (pictured in 2020) asked on Twitter
While there is no direct evidence there is an increased risk of transmission for those with facial hair, large numbers of health workers have ditched their beards and opted for a clean shave during the Covid-19 pandemic.
'A study comparing the fitted filtration efficiency of five commonly worn masks found N95 respirators offer the best respiratory protection for bearded men,' a report from the NSW Critical Intelligence Unit states.
'While KF94 and KN95 fitted filtration efficiency was compromised by increasing beard length, they were better options than procedure and cotton face masks.'
It's not the first time Dr Coatsworth has been critical of the Victorian government's response to the pandemic.
'What I'd say there is there is clearly one state in the country that seems to hold onto their restrictions longer than others and that's Victoria and I don't agree with it,' he told Daily Mail Australia in April.
'Ultimately it's going to come down to the people in Victoria as to whether it's the right thing to do or not. I guess they'll make that decision at the next election.'
As part of the initiative in Victoria, more than three million masks will be handed out through state-run testing sites, community health services such as Cohealth, and the public transport network to protect those most vulnerable to the virus amid an uptick in cases.
Over the next four to six weeks every Victorian that presents for either a free rapid antigen or PCR test will receive one box of 10 N95 masks with instructions on how to best wear them to reduce transmission.
More than three million masks will be handed out through state-run testing