Should I wear a face mask? Answering some of your most frequently asked questions.
Should I wear a face mask?
If your immune system is compromised, then there may be some situations where wearing a mask could reduce your risk from COVID-19. This will primarily be in situations where maintaining physical distancing is difficult such as:
- When using public transport
- In crowded places
- During hospital or GP visits where encounters cannot be avoided
If you do use a mask, a surgical or cloth mask is sufficient. You should not use a P2 or N95 mask. Surgical masks are disposable, so if you chose to use a surgical mask, it should not be reused. When putting the mask on or taking the mask off, try to only touch the mask by the straps that go over the ears. Once the mask is on, do not remove it and put it back on – it should remain in place until you are finished wearing it.
If you are unable to avoid people who do have flu-like symptoms, such as members of your household, then encouraging them to wear a mask may also help to protect you.
It is important to remember that a mask is not a substitute for maintaining physical distance, hand hygiene, and at least daily cleaning of frequently touched surfaces. You can find more information on these precautions under ‘Are there any additional precautions I should take if I have or have had cancer?’
For anyone whose immune system is not compromised, masks will be most suitable for people with flu-like symptoms as they can help to protect others by reducing the risk the person will spread the virus. However, as always, getting tested and staying at home is vital if you have any COVID-19 symptoms.
While there is there is some research the benefit of masks for people who are asymptomatic, they are not currently recommended for the general population in Australia.
Should I go back to work?
The decision to return to working in an office will depend on your individual circumstances and the level of risk posed to you, so it is best to discuss this with your treatment team.
If you do decide to return to work, it is important to take practical steps in reducing your risk of exposure, including:
- Maintaining a 1.5 metre physical distance and avoiding handshakes.
- Avoiding public transport if possible, in particular during peak hour.
- Practicing good hygiene – regular handwashing, use of hand sanitisers, avoid touching eyes, nose and the mouth.
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces at least daily.
- Avoiding people who are sick or do have symptoms
- Avoid shared dining spaces and shared equipment. Ideally pack a lunch to take and wipe your eating surface before and after eating.
It is a good idea to also download the COVIDSafe app, as it will help you to know if you may have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19 so that you will be able to take additional precautions and pursue any necessary follow up, as soon as possible. For more information and to download the app visit the COVIDSafe web page.
My employer wants me to return to work, but I am concerned. What can I do?
For most workplaces, the transition back to work will be phased in order to meet physical distancing requirements, though employers are able to decide which employees should return first.
Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth), for employees with a disability, including those who are immunocompromised, workplaces do need to consider and make reasonable adjustments to ensure employees are able to perform their role in a productive and safe environment.
If you are immunocompromised or your treatment team has recommended you continue working from home, then you may need a letter from your doctor explaining your individual circumstances, and the high level of risk posed to you. It is best to first discuss this with your manager or your workplaces human resources department.
If you need information or practical support you can speak to our trained staff on 1300 881 698 or contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org