A Ballarat general practitioner is calling for all people within the city to start wearing masks as soon as possible before it becomes mandatory on Sunday evening.
Dr Matthew Pilkington made the call following Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews' announcement on Thursday morning that wearing masks would become mandatory for all regional Victorians at the conclusion of the weekend.
"If you have access to a mask right now, there is no doubt that it is better for your health and the health of people around you if you start wearing a mask as soon as possible," Dr Pilkington said.
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Responding to people who claim wearing a mask is too cumbersome, uncomfortable or an invasion of their human rights, Dr Pilkington made it very clear that wearing a mask can save lives.
"What we need to be aware of is that when an infectious person wears a mask it seems to drastically reduce the distance in which they can spread the virus. When a healthy person wears a mask, it seems to reduce the risk of them contracting the virus," he continued.
"Nothing is perfect, but what we're talking about is wearing a thin sheet of fabric over your face, which is an easy thing to do at the end of the day.
"People that are so unwell that they say they cannot wear a mask because it will disrupt their breathing need to consider that they could be potentially very susceptible to this virus... it could potentially kill them."
Dr Pilkington said he has been pleased with the amount of people within the region who have already taken to wearing masks when they're outside of the home.
He added his belief that this eagerness to take extra precautions could be a contributing factor in what has kept Ballarat's COVID-19 numbers relatively steady, however he continued to urge the community to remain cautious.
"I think we've seen ever since the announcement in Melbourne that masks were mandatory, a lot of local people have been wearing masks.
"That is excellent... I don't know how much to attribute that to people in Ballarat being better at social-distancing or wearing masks, but at the end of the day we should always remember how fragile coronavirus responses can be.
"Two months ago we thought we were doing very well and now we're going backwards... if things look like they're going well in Ballarat that's great, but we need to keep doing everything right to keep it that way."
These sentiments were echoed by City of Ballarat chief executive Janet Dore. Ms Dore, along with mayor Ben Taylor, has been urging the community to wear masks when outside since early July.
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"Let's all wear masks, before it becomes mandatory," Ms Dore said.
"We can look after our own communities and stop this spread.
"I have had some masks made for me - there's a couple of really great places, people making their own masks in Ballarat. There should be plenty available. We can beat this and keep it out of Ballarat."
Remember to maintain good hand hygiene, wear a mask when in public, and keep a 1.5 metre distance from others at all times.
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