Health Check

Let's get behind the mask

This little piece of protective gear has got a lot of attention since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. And official advice on their use changes as we learn more about the virus. Here’s the latest on what you need to know.

Written by Editor Medibank

Do I need a mask?

Depending on where you live in Australia, your state or territory health department may request or mandate wearing masks in situations where social distancing may not be possible - for example, if you need to take public transport. 

If there's a large rise in community transmission, your state or territory health department may mandate you wear masks at all times. The requirements for mask wearing are changing regularly, so it's essential to keep up to date with what your state and territory health requirements are.

Find the contact details and websites of your local state and territory health departments here.


Why are we being asked to wear a mask?

As you may have read, COVID-19 is highly contagious and is spread through the droplets of an infected person. Combined with other measures such as keeping 1.5 metres apart and washing your hands, a mask can provide an additional protective barrier to help stop the wearer getting or spreading the virus. 


What kind of face mask should I use?

The Federal Government guidelines recommend multilayered cloth masks for the general public, and surgical masks for healthcare workers (as long as they're not involved in aerosol procedures, high risk settings and so on). 

Other types of masks and respirators (P2 or N95) are not recommended for non-health professionals. 

This page has some useful information on the different kinds of face masks and how to choose one.

The Federal Government has also released instructions on how to sew your own cloth mask


Can I reuse a face mask?

The good thing about a cloth mask is it can be washed and re-used. It’s a good idea to have at least two, so you always have a clean one available. Don’t reuse the same cloth mask without washing it and put each used cloth mask into a zip lock bag to be taken home for washing. 

You can find more information on how to look after your cloth mask here.  

Surgical masks are for single-use only and should be disposed of responsibly in the rubbish bin. 


How do I wear my face mask?

For a mask to be effective, it’s not as simple as just putting it on. There are some strict guidelines you should follow including making sure the mask fits securely and snug on your face and covers both your nose and mouth. You should also be aware of how to put on and take off your mask correctly. This includes making sure you wash your hands before putting on and taking off your mask with soap and water for 20 seconds or with a 60% alcohol-based sanitiser.  

You can find detailed instructions on how to wear a face mask correctly here.   


How else can I protect myself from COVID-19? 

It’s important to note that wearing a face mask is just one step in a suite of measures you should take to protect yourself from COVID-19. Wearing a mask alone will not protect you. Even when wearing a mask, you should still adhere to official government advice on how to protect yourself including practising good hygiene and maintaining physical distancing

Public gatherings and social occasions significantly increase the risk of catching or spreading coronavirus, which is why there are restrictions on these. Rules for public and social gatherings differ between states and territories, so it’s important for you to stay up to date on what these are for where you live. You can check the rules for your state or territory here. Keep in mind that these rules about gatherings and physical distancing are different to isolation. Isolation is mandatory if you have or are suspected of having coronavirus.

You can read more about how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 here.


COVID-19 Health Assist

We understand that every Medibank member will be impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, whether you’re diagnosed with it or not. For that reason, we have created COVID-19 Health Assist to support our members with personalised information and health advice and assistance during this time. You can find out more here.  


Need support during this time?

Don’t be afraid to reach out for support from a mental health professional if you’re feeling distressed, anxious, down or lonely. This is a challenging time and they’re here to help.  


Medibank 24/7 Nurse and Mental Health Support Line  

If you’re a Medibank member with hospital cover* you can call 1800 644 325 to speak to a qualified nurse about your health concerns, or you can talk to a mental health professional for confidential support, advice or information.  


Beyond Blue

If you’re feeling worried or struggling to cope you can also call Beyond Blue’s Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service on 1800 512 348.  

For more information on COVID-19 you can also call the Australian Government’s National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080.




*OSHC members should call the Student Health & Support Line on 1800 887 283

Written by Editor Medibank

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