Australian medical body calls for return of face masks

CANBERRA, May 18: The Australian Medical Association (AMA) on Wednesday called for a return of face masks to mitigate an impending spike in Covid-19 and influenza cases.

Chris Moy, Vice-President of the AMA, warned that a double blow of Covid-19 and the flu would put “enormous pressure” on the country’s health system.

Australia reported fewer than 30,000 influenza cases in 2020 and 2021 combined, with Covid-19 restrictions preventing its spread.

In comparison, there were more than 300,000 cases in 2019 and 953 deaths.

With coronavirus restrictions now lifted across the country, experts have warned of a potentially devastating winter flu season.

“We are heading into winter for our first real flu season in a couple of years,” Moy told local media.

“People need to consider, particularly in indoor areas where it is not possible to physically distance, to get back to basics, such as wearing masks, to minimise the spread of both those infections.”

Australia on Wednesday recorded more than 50,000 new coronavirus infections and over 50 deaths.

Asked about the ongoing response to the pandemic while campaigning for Saturday’s general election, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said rising case numbers were “always going to happen”.

The number has risen and that’s what was always going to happen, he said on Wednesday.

“What you see when you have case numbers of that level is that people, when they pass away, from many other causes, they will die with Covid, and their deaths are recorded as Covid deaths, but that doesn’t necessarily mean … that they passed away because of Covid, that’s a very different proposition.”

(IANS)