100,000 P2 masks for ACT from Commonwealth stocks

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The ACT has accepted an offer of more than 100,000 P2 masks from the Commonwealth as the city continues to face extremely poor air quality conditions.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said air quality in Canberra continued to be “extraordinarily bad”.

Mr Barr said he had accepted an offer from federal health minister Greg Hunt to provide masks from Commonwealth stocks.

“More than 100,000 [masks] will be arriving in Canberra from Sydney tomorrow morning. These will be made available to vulnerable people in our community, such as those sensitive to smoky conditions, and those unable to avoid long outdoor exposure,” Mr Barr said.

Authorities were still determining how people in vulnerable groups could access the masks.

“We are working with peak bodies and various organisations to establish the best way to provide these masks to vulnerable Canberrans, with appropriate health advice on how to safely use these masks.”

Mr Barr said the period of smoke haze continued to be an anxious time for residents in Canberra, but he acknowledged many people would still need to be outdoors.

“We know the amount of smoke around the territory continues to be of great concern to residents. It is uncomfortable and we know many people are anxious about their exposure to smoke,” he said.

“Again, the very best advice from ACT Health is the best way to limit your exposure to this smoke is to stay indoors. I want to repeat that, the best way, far and away, to avoid that smoke exposure is to stay indoors. Please do so.”

ACT chief health officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said vulnerable communities – including people aged over 65, people with underlying heart or lung disease and pregnant women – would be the focus of mask distribution efforts.

“We are encouraging these people who have medical conditions to go and talk to their doctor, their physician, who understands their condition about whether a mask would be of benefit or whether it would make them feel worse,” Dr Coleman said.

“These masks are only effective if they fitted properly.”

Masks were not the only answer to the smoke problem and weren’t always the answer, Dr Coleman said.

Chief Health Officer Kerryn Coleman and ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr provide an update on the State of Alert for the ACT.Picture: Elesa Kurtz

 Chief Health Officer Kerryn Coleman and ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr provide an update on the State of Alert for the ACT.Picture: Elesa Kurtz

The chief minister and chief health officer acknowledged that for many, the smoke was inside their homes.

“These are unprecedented conditions in Canberra and I think we’ve all been trying to work together on how to make the most of the situation that we have been trying to control the best we can,” Dr Coleman said.

“The best we can do as a community is try and reduce the exposure to smoke that we have, and our advice has been to try and do that in the multiple ways that you have available to you.”

Dr Coleman reiterated that people should stay inside with the windows and doors shut, and not use evaporative air conditioners.

Mr Barr said the conditions looked set to stay for another couple of days, and would improve when the wind direction changed.

Content retrieved from: https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6566786/100000-p2-masks-for-act-from-commonwealth-stocks/.

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