Greens call for 'mask up' campaign as government sleepwalks towards health crisis


As the number of Victorians in hospital with COVID marches steadily higher, hitting 571 today, and new national death data also increases, the Victorian Greens are urging the state government to launch a “mask up for winter” campaign.

The Greens also want to see influenza vaccines subsidised by the government this year as flu cases skyrocket around the country.

With nurses, midwives, and paramedics sick at home due to COVID, our ambulance service and hospitals are not coping with the burden of COVID patients and services will worsen as COVID and influenza cases increase through winter.

ABS data released this week show a significant 17% increase in deaths during February largely due to COVID, while Victoria has recorded 213 COVID deaths in the past fortnight.

Greens health spokesperson, Dr Tim Read, today urged the state government to do more to reduce the rate of community transmission of COVID and influenza by launching a campaign to create a culture of wearing masks indoors and paying attention to air quality.

Dr Read called on the government to seek and publicise advice on what more should be done to reduce the spread of respiratory viruses and to fund a program encouraging the community to voluntarily adopt effective low impact measures, such as:

  • A campaign promoting face masks indoors during winter
  • A campaign promoting free influenza vaccination and COVID booster doses
  • Pushing employers and venue operators to perform a ventilation analysis and use HEPA air purifiers to reduce virus-containing aerosols on their premises

Dr Read said the more the government does now to reduce transmission with voluntary measures, the less likely we are to face a serious hospital crisis or another Code Brown.

Quotes attributable to Victorian Greens health spokesperson, Dr Tim Read:

“If we’re serious about helping our ambulance and hospital system, we can’t keep watching these numbers increase without doing something.

“Asking Victorians to mask up for winter, use an air purifier or have a COVID booster or a flu shot, is preferable to asking them to wait longer for an ambulance or a hospital bed when they need one.

“In mid-March we had 175 COVID cases in hospital and that’s gone up to 571 which is like closing a very large hospital just when we need it most."