Fears dodgy masks putting health workers at risk
EXCLUSIVE: All frontline health workers should be given higher grade N95 masks to protect them against coronavirus now there is evidence the infection is airborne, federal AMA presidential candidate Dr Omar Khorshid says.
And he expressed grave concern that 200 companies had government registration of their masks removed after the medical watchdog began checking the quality of personal protective equipment.
He said hospitals needed to do a stocktake to ensure none of the dodgy masks were on their shelves.
"It's absolutely critical every hospital staff member knows the equipment is of the quality it says on the packet," he said.
Over 500 health workers have already been infected with COVID-19.
The Australian Medical Association is demanding state governments declare their support for a zero-death target for healthcare workers during the pandemic.
"From the beginning of this pandemic, governments and the public have relied on healthcare workers to continue doing the jobs they signed up for and stand on the frontline to face the pandemic threat on their behalf,' Dr Khorshid said.
"In doing so, healthcare workers have put themselves and their family members at risk," he said.
He criticised the governments of NSW and Victoria for their refusal to sign up to a commitment that there would be zero health worker deaths from COVID.
Dr Khorshid said ensuring health workers were supplied with the right masks was critical because once one health worker became infected with COVID-19, all of their colleagues had to go into isolation.
Dozens of vital health workers in at least seven hospitals in Victoria have contracted the virus and many more are in isolation.
Five staff at the Royal Children's Hospital have tested positive and seven of their colleagues are in self isolation.
There have also been outbreaks at the Northern Hospital, the Bundoora Centre, Broadmeadows Hospital, 21 cases at Box Hill Hospital and more cases at the Alfred Hospital and Brunswick Private Hospital.
The World Health Organisation recently said it "cannot rule out" the risk of coronavirus spreading through the air and backed the use of face masks in public.
Dr Khorshid said health workers were currently issued lower grade surgical masks in lower risk settings and used higher grade N95 masks when doing high risk procedures.
"We understand there is a very large stockpile of N95 masks so using those to prevent aerosol spread is really important," Dr Khorshid said.
In addition he said it was time health workers were given proper fit testing of masks to make sure they could be applied snugly to prevent infection.
Originally published as Fears dodgy masks putting health workers at risk