Healthcare departments across Australia need to more selectively procure respirator masks to encourage stronger compliance among frontline workers, researchers say.
The finding follows the federal government signing off on an extra $760 million to help states and territories in the ongoing fight against COVID-19.
Existing commonwealth-state funding arrangements were set to expire in September but were extended on Friday by three months.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says the pandemic “clearly isn’t over yet and it would be very brave to suggest that you can make that projection”.
Study author Irene Ng, a consultant anaesthetist at Royal Melbourne Hospital, said healthcare workers often do not comply with recommendations for using respirators, particularly N95 respirators.
“Explanations for non-compliance include the lack of standardisation of donning and doffing techniques, and design features of respirators that reduce comfort and usability,” Dr Ng said.
Some 378 health workers completed a comfort and usability survey, which formed the basis for the study.
The overall fit test pass rates were 65 per cent for semi-rigid cup respirators, 32 per cent for the flat-fold models, 59 per cent for the duckbill respirators and 96 per cent for three-panel flat-fold designs.
The latter was therefore the obvious choice for administrators and state and federal health departments when considering how to maximise respiratory protection.
Australia’s coronavirus-related death toll continues to rise, with more than 100 fatalities announced over the weekend including 48 in Victoria.
More than 47,000 new infections were also recorded between Friday and Sunday.
There are presently more than 212,000 active COVID-19 cases across the country, with nearly 2900 patients in hospital care.