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Victorian doctors call for action on face mask shortage

Victorian doctors call for action on face mask shortage
Supplies of N95 face masks for Victorian health care workers have reportedly fallen to "alarmingly low" levels and doctors are calling for action to ensure frontline workers are properly protected.
Speaking on Today Altona GP and former President of the Australian Medical Association Dr Mukesh Haikerwal said the availability of adequate PPE equipment for health care workers varies from location to location.
"It depends where you are ... but there is a big effort to deal with the problems," Dr Haikerwal said.
Dr Mukesh Haikerwal on Today. (Today)
"We need to see the action. We've had a trial proposed. We have committees working to make this work.
"Until there are actually people feeling safer, making sure ... they have their equipment in the hands and on the their faces, then we won't be sure."
According to a report in The Age, the shortage of N95 masks has caused protective gear to be rationed.
Dr Haikerwal said universal access to the "best equipment" is the only way to ensure the safety of frontline workers.
"There is a need to make sure that they get the best equipment, that is universal access to this equipment for the healthcare workers," he said.
"So you have the right equipment on the right person to make sure they can do the right work and do it safely."
Dr Nick Coatsworth on Today. (Today)
Also speaking on Today Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Coatsworth denied there was a shortage of appropriate PPE for healthcare workers who require them. Dr Coatsworth said supply issues of N95 masks only arise if they are used for "every healthcare interaction".
"We have millions of N95 masks in the national stockpile and equally Victoria does as well," he said.
"The key, though, is that nobody holds infinite quantities of personal protective equipment.
"Provided the guidelines are followed then we have more than enough PPE to protect the healthcare workers, who are our most valuable resource, and aged care workers."
Almost 3500 health workers have contracted coronavirus in Victoria.