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Will Australian airlines also ban masks with vents or valves?

November 21, 2020 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

Reports from the USA including a report by Sam Chui say that major US airlines banned face masks with valves or vents a while ago, as a result of CDC research casting doubt over their effectiveness.

The question is will this happen in Australia?

According to the US CDC masks with valves pose a problem, with although they help protect the person wearing it, they may not help protect others around you, because the exhaust from the mask is not filtered and flows freely into the environment, meaning that your exhaled breath — or sneeze or cough droplets — are more easily expelled into the surrounding air.

The Australian Government says that the Australian aviation industry has developed a Domestic Passenger Journey Protocol to provide clear and consistent guidance regarding risk-minimisation principles and processes in domestic airports and on aircraft for domestic passenger travel and in answer to the question, “Do I have to wear a face mask” the response is that, “Health advice continues to recommend that healthy people in the community do not need to wear masks, while the rate of community transmission of COVID-19 is low”, adding, “In some situations where it is not feasible to maintain physical distancing, or where someone is at an increased risk of severe illness if infected with COVID-19 (for example age or a chronic medical condition), wearing a face mask may be a reasonable additional safety measure, and “For this reason, some airlines may ask you to wear a mask.”

QANTAS says the following: –

Flights to, from and within Victoria, it’s mandatory to wear a face mask flying to, from or within Victoria and your face mask needs to cover your mouth and nose and must be worn unless you’re under 12 years of age or have a medical condition.

When travelling from or within Victoria, you’ll need to wear your mask as soon as you enter the airport and also inflight.

When travelling to Victoria, you’ll need to wear your mask during boarding and inflight.

For all other Australian domestic flights face masks are strongly recommended, with QANTAS saying, while wearing a face mask isn’t mandatory on other flights, it’s strongly recommended that you wear a face mask for everyone’s peace-of-mind, with face masks and sanitising wipes included in your Fly Well pack which is collected at the boarding gate, and you can bring your own mask to wear if you prefer.

For flights between Australia and New Zealand, QANTAS says it is mandatory for to wear a face mask if you’re flying between Australia and New Zealand and you’ll need to wear your mask during boarding and inflight.

I anticipate the rules are the same for Jetstar and similar for Virgin Australia, but what is interesting is that no mention is made of the type of mask or CDC’s statement about the inefficiencies of the masks with valves.

The CDC also says that while people should wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, they should not wear those with exhalation valves or vents, which are intended for use in construction work, allowing users to breathe in filtered air and exhale warm, moist air through the valve, with these valves reducing heat and moisture inside masks, making them more comfortable to wear for long periods.

It confirms that this design doesn’t prevent the spread of infectious diseases, with the main reason for wearing masks in the COVID-19 era is to prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air when a person coughs, sneezes or talks, but when a mask has a valve, respiratory droplets from the wearer are expelled into the air and could reach other people, with the CDC saying on its website “This type of mask does not prevent the person wearing the mask from transmitting COVID-19 to others,”.

This is the reason why many airlines have already banned customers from wearing masks with valves on flights,

Maybe our Australian airlines and governments should check this out?

A report by John Alwyn-Jones

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