Workers at a hospital in Melbourne’s east have been ordered to wear face masks at all times from Wednesday.
The frontline workers in patient or public facing areas were told on Tuesday by Epworth management the personal protective equipment would be mandatory at the Box Hill hospital until further notice.
Additional stock was delivered yesterday afternoon.
“This is a precautionary step taken to support the recommendation from the DHHS, and I encourage you to reassure your patients that despite seeing more masks in our health service, the prevalence of COVID-19 in our local community is currently quite low,” chief executive David Plunkett said.
Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton hinted at a possible move to make the face masks mandatory for workers at all hospitals.
“In health settings it’s a reasonable measure,” he told reporters yesterday.
“Where community transmission isn’t negligible, masks are a reasonable thing to wear where you can’t physically distance, but we’re working up some communication materials and will have more to say on that in the coming days.”
Staff at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in Parkville, Austin Hospital in Heidelberg and The Alfred have been told to wear masks at all times.
Western Health has also introduced similar precautions for its Footscray and Sunshine locations.
Workers at the Northern Hospital in Epping have also been instructed to wear face masks at all times, even when not in contact with patients.
It comes after NCA NewsWire revealed the Epping health facility was temporarily diverting some ambulances to other hospitals as a coronavirus outbreak in the facility’s emergency department grows.
The cluster grew to nine yesterday after a household contact contracted COVID-19 from one of seven emergency department staff who tested positive to the deadly infection.
“Due to a number of staff cases of coronavirus and quarantined close contacts in the emergency department, the hospital is operating reduced services and some ambulances are temporarily being diverted to other hospitals,” a health department spokesperson said.
Premier Daniel Andrews yesterday announced a six-week Melbourne-wide lockdown, starting 11.59pm on Wednesday.
Melburnians will only be allowed to leave their homes for four reasons — grocery shopping, caregiving, daily exercise, and school or work.
School holidays in Victoria will be extended by a week, but all VCE students will return to face-to-face learning on Monday, with other students warned of a possible return to remote learning.
Specialist school students will also return to face-to-face learning.
Every Melbourne local government area will be affected, including Mitchell Shire in the city’s outer north.
“This is further than what we went last time but we find ourselves in a much more precarious situation today,” Mr Andrews warned.
“We are on the cusp of something very bad if we don’t take the right steps today.”
Originally published as Hospital staff to wear masks 24/7