The Australian Government is now supplying more than 1.8 million P2 face masks to assist frontline workers and those at risk in communities affected by the bushfires.
The Government is providing more than 1 million masks to NSW, 455,400 to Victoria, approximately 400,000 to the ACT, 19,200 to Australia Post, and 3000 to the Australian Federal Police. More will be made available should they be requested.
Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, said the provision of the P2 masks formed an important part of the Government’s comprehensive response to the bushfire crisis.
“The Government is working closely with affected jurisdictions to identify if additional masks – beyond those already being provided – are required,” Minister Hunt said.
Acting Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly, said available supplies of P2 masks should be allocated as a priority to those most at risk of significant health effects from smoke, including:
- People with existing heart or lung conditions, including angina, ischaemic heart disease, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (bronchitis and emphysema).
- People over 65 years of age, as they are more likely to have heart or lung disease.
- Children 14 years and younger.
- Pregnant women.
“It is important to note that wearing masks is not an alternative to avoiding smoke. The best thing people in smoke-affected communities can do is stay inside with doors and windows closed if at all possible,” Professor Kelly said.
“People with underlying heart or lung health issues and other chronic conditions should consult their doctor for advice before using a P2 mask.
“Anyone who feels dizzy, faints or is out of breath while wearing a P2 mask should remove it and go to a place with cleaner air quality.
“People concerned about bushfire smoke should follow the recommendations of their doctor or local health authority, and check state and territory health department advice for up-to-date information on air quality.”
State and territory governments are distributing the P2 masks and providing air quality guidance within their jurisdictions.