UOW expert: Jane Whitelaw says health-care workers in Australia are inadequately protected against coronavirus
The need for advanced-level PPE is crucial to protect frontline health workers fighting COVID-19
Jane Whitelaw is an Occupational Hygienist from the School of Health and Society at the University of Wollongong. She says healthcare workers in Australia are inadequately protected against COVID-19.
In a co-authored article in The Conversation, Jane says inadequate national guidance has led to an inconsistent and non-standardised approach to airborne precaution PPE across all healthcare settings.
“While we don’t know what proportion of the Victorian healthcare workers currently infected with COVID-19 acquired it at work rather than in the community, it’s almost certain a portion of these infections were contracted in the workplace,” she writes.
Jane says surgical masks are primarily designed to protect the environment from the wearer. They’re not designed to protect the wearer from respiratory pathogens.
“Coronavirus is a highly contagious virus with the potential to cause significant ill health and death. In healthcare settings, it should be classified as a lethal biohazard and managed accordingly.
“The safest approach is to consider all people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 in hospital, being transported to hospital or being tested for COVID-19 as being able to spread the virus via the airborne route. As such, the use of airborne precaution PPE with a correctly fitted N95/P2 respirator is essential.”
Jane Whitelaw is available for media interviews.
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