Photo taken on May 27, 2020 shows workers at Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia. (Photo: Xinhua)
Australia's peak medical body has accused state and federal governments of an "appalling" approach to ill-fitting face masks for healthcare workers.
Omar Khorshid, the president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), on Wednesday said that it was "baffling" that frontline medical workers caring for COVID-19 patients have not been fitted properly for N95 masks to create an effective seal around the face.
"It's a basic requirement for workplace safety that is not being observed in most states," Omar Khorshid, who succeeded Tony Bartone as the president of the AMA on Aug. 1, told the Guardian Australia.
"(Many state health departments) have completely dropped the ball on healthcare workers safety and appear to be wilfully ignoring repeated calls from clinicians to make sure that everybody who is likely to be the frontlines, and likely to be required to wear an N95 mask, is being properly fit-tested."
"It's something that must be achieved and it's appalling that it hasn't been done already."
State health departments are responsible for providing hospitals with personal protective equipment (PPE) but have often only provided one size of N95 mask, leaving young female health workers particularly vulnerable.
As of Monday, approximately 14 percent of Victoria's active cases of COVID-19 were healthcare workers.
"It has been our anecdotal experience that standard N95 mask fits certain faces better than other, and smaller women have had a great proportion of test failures, as well as people with different face shapes from different racial backgrounds," Khorshid said.
"We know that healthcare workers are over-represented when it comes to cases of COVID-19, and the idea that they caught that out in the community and not in health care settings is clearly not the case."
"There are a few ways that the transmission could happen but ill-fitting or inappropriate masks may well be part of that."