How popular are N95 masks in Australia?

Hoarding has become a problem, not just in the USA, but in the world over from the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. It is not just groceries that are being hoarded, but essential life-saving PPE like the N95 mask.

Now, countries beyond the United States have also suffered a shortage of N95 mask supply including 3M N95 masks, 3M 8511, 3M 8210, 1860 N95 mask, and kn95 masks. Because of this matter, there is an ongoing plea to cease the selling of the N95 mask to the public.

Motion to Stop N95 Mask Sales in Australia

The non-government healthcare services provider Catholic Health Australia has sought to stop retailers from selling n95 masks or n95 respirators to the general public. The limited number of N95 mask supply available in Australia is already set to be completely exhausted. The imminent consequences of not having enough N95 masks in stock will not only be faced by health workers, but the healthcare system as a whole can suffer.

Currently, the N95 mask is available in stores such as Office Warehouse and Chemist Warehouse which sell the N95 mask at affordable prices to the public.

Meanwhile, hospitals in Australia are losing their supply of the best antiviral protection that is the N95 mask. In hospitals in Victoria, health providers have already reached out to other states with lower Covid-19 cases to access their N95 mask stock.

Moreover, an NSW Nurses and Midwives Association survey revealed that one in five hospital staff lacks sufficient protective equipment, including the N95 mask. This dilemma among healthcare workers is what may cease the supply of the N95 mask in Australia to the general public.

Furthermore, the pandemic is nowhere near its end. The coronavirus is even expected to affect more people very quickly in the coming months. The exposure of health workers to Covid-19 patients is then inevitable. It is therefore important to stress out the need for constant N95 mask supply, especially for emergency and intensive care units. As such, national stocks of the N95 mask in Australia should be preserved for health workers.

Australia Healthcare Workers Getting Coronavirus

As the cases of infected individuals in the country arise, the escalation of those infected in healthcare is even more alarming. In Victoria, over 1,100 healthcare workers have already been infected with the coronavirus. In particular, the healthcare workforce in aged care has been depleted quickly. A lack of PPE, especially the N95 mask is a major concern.

Furthermore, there are concerns that some Australian hospitals may be using insufficient quality of the N95 mask. The N95 mask in question is the BYD DE2322 N95 mask which is manufactured by a Chinese company. The particular N95 mask is also not certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

State governments have received increasing pressure regarding the N95 mask supply, especially amongst frontline healthcare workers. The N95 mask is meant to protect the wearer from splashing and filters the air particles that go through it.

In New South Wales, where nearly half of the country’s cases of coronavirus are, there is an insufficient supply of the N95 mask. While people often send thank you letters and food to thank the frontliners, little is known that the hospital staff has been struggling with their N95 mask supply. There are even tight restrictions of using the N95 mask, and some health professionals have resorted to using face shields from hardware stores.

Now, even emergency department staff need the highest standard of PPE like the N95 mask as Covid-19 cases escalate. There have been protests from healthcare workers around the world as to the global shortage of the N95 mask and other protective equipment.

How Australia’s Citizens Can Stay Protected

For virus protection of families and kids in Australia, reusable face mask options are recommended in lieu of the N95 mask. Instead of supplying the public with a medical, surgical, or disposable face mask that is  N95 mask quality, other face masks may be used.

While the N95 mask is superior in its ability to filter hazardous particles in smoke, dust, and air, including the coronavirus, the N95 mask is not for general use and should not be for sale either in bulk locally or online at wholesale prices. Instead, the N95 mask supply should be targeted at the ones who are in greater need during the pandemic.

Instead of an N95 mask, the public may buy a face mask with many uses that help protect against flu causing illness. Cloth masks, for example, are adjustable in size and can be washed to be used again. As long as it is multi-layered and well-fitted, it will help protect the wearer. There is no need to buy the N95 mask for personal use.

Face shields and face mask combination can also help protect individuals from contracting the virus without depriving health workers of the N95 mask supply. All these safety measures can be used instead of the N95 mask which frontliners need the most during the ongoing pandemic.

Government Increase N95 Mask Supply

As the medical industry in Australia highlighted the importance of securing PPE including the N95 mask, the Morrison government has already increased its National Medical Stockpile. These include surgical masks, P2, and the N95 mask. These are reserved for medical and aged care health professionals that care for symptomatic and asymptomatic Covid-19 patients.

The health system in Australia is believed to be world-class and apt to deal with the virus. But with the alarming rate at which the pandemic continues to threaten the entire world, the government also sought to prioritize and strengthen its health system by supplying what they need most, including the N95 mask.

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