Free N95 and KN95 face masks distributed at train stations and community health centers

New Zealand is already offering free face masks at test sites, while Transport NSW has distributed 2.4million surgical masks at transport hubs since April this year.

Andrews dismissed suggestions that quality masks could have been provided free of charge earlier.

“We’ve been giving out masks and doing all kinds of partnerships with so many, many different groups for a long, long time… It’s pretty much a push toward the end of that wave,” he said.

Victoria passed the peak of the BA.4 and BA.5 wave, with 673 people hospitalized on Tuesday and 6,380 new infections announced.

Monash health professor Rhonda Stuart said N95 masks create a stronger seal around the nose and mouth than a surgical or cloth mask, providing better protection against spreading or contracting COVID-19. 19. Masks also have better filters.

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“It’s not good to have it in your hand and not wear it properly. It should be on your face…covering your nose and mouth, not under your chin,” Stuart said.

“The most important thing is that you try to get a good seal.”

Stuart said surgical masks were still very beneficial, but N95 and KN95 masks were particularly recommended for vulnerable people.

Reusable cloth masks offer the least protection but are still better than no mask at all. People can also “double mask” by wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask.

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Tighter-fitting P2 or N95 masks are available at hardware stores, supermarkets and pharmacies.

Professor Catherine Bennett, a Deakin University epidemiologist, said it was important to show people how to put on the N95 masks when they receive them.

“I would love to see that because it makes a big difference,” Bennett said. “You can get a perfect fit and that makes them more protective.”

Bennett said many vulnerable people are still restricting their lives to protect themselves from COVID-19, and the free supply of quality masks could help them feel comfortable moving around more freely. But she stressed that they must be worn correctly.

Professor Karen Price, president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, said the announcement was “exactly what the doctor ordered”.

“I know wearing a mask is no fun and can be slightly uncomfortable, but remember taking this small step can help bring down the numbers of COVID-19 in Victoria.”

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