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Health advice update on masks

On the 2nd of August, the NSW Government updated its health advice regarding the use of masks in public. The NSW Government is strongly encouraging greater use of masks in high-risk public settings to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Advice from the NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant specifically recommends:

  • the use of face masks in indoor settings where physical distancing is hard to maintain, such as on public transport or in supermarkets

  • the use of face masks (where practical) in indoor settings with a higher risk of transmission, such as for the staff of hospitality and customer-facing venues i.e. cafes, restaurants, pubs and clubs

  • during attendance at places of worship.

Wearing a mask in any of these settings is not mandatory but is highly recommended, especially in areas where there has been community transmission.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said a mask is not a substitute for physical distancing. “People should continue to maintain their physical distance – it is our most effective weapon. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you can’t maintain your physical distance you should wear a mask,” Ms Berejiklian said. Read more.

On the 24th of July, NSW Health advised that all public health workers are required to wear a surgical mask if they are within 1.5 meters of patients. This includes the requirement for patients to wear a mask, where possible. This is in response to the current context of local transmission and NSW Health’s advice to escalate to a moderate level of risk. This is not mandatory for private practice. However, it is important to avoid the possibility of close contact within your practice.

  • Physical distancing is required in all areas of the practice, including in waiting rooms and staff rooms. Masks are recommended if it is not possible to physically distance.

  • Reduce the risk of close contact including staff to staff, patient to staff and patient to patient by minimising wait times for patients, staggering staff lunch breaks etc.

  • Please ensure that all patients are asked appropriate screening questions when making the appointment and again when they arrive. Be especially cautious if the practice/patient is located in areas with community transmission (see NSW and ACT hotspots). It may be appropriate in this instance to defer the appointment.

  • For an understanding of how close contacts are defined, please see the latest version of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (CDNA SoNG reference document found here). Understanding what constitutes a close contact will help you understand how to prevent it occurring in non-clinical areas of your practice.

These updates and more are available at ADA NSW's COVID-19 Information for Dental Practitioners.

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