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Public transport mask mandate should stay for winter: Spurrier

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South Australia’s mask requirement for public transport users should remain in place over the winter period, chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier says, citing an increased risk of respiratory infection over the cooler months.

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That’s despite the state’s Emergency Management Council deciding yesterday to remove a mask mandate for all secondary students and staff at schools.

The face coverings will no longer be compulsory in schools from next week. Instead, masks will be “strongly recommended” for students in years 3 to 12 and all staff and adult visitors in schools.

But the requirement for South Australia’s commuters to wear masks on trains, trams and buses looks set to stay for longer after the chief public health officer said the requirement should stay for winter.

“I think they should be in place for most of winter,” Spurrier told reporters on Tuesday.

“We’re really getting to that season where it’s cold, there’s more respiratory infections that are being passed around, and so we’ve landed on the core group of measures that we feel protect us as a society over that winter period.

“There’s not much left [in terms of restrictions], but it is those sort of key things and when we look at modelling and we look at hospitalisations, then I think these are pretty reasonable.”

South Australia recorded 3482 new COVID-19 cases and 232 patients in hospital on Tuesday, including nine people in intensive care.

SA Health yesterday reported 14 deaths in “data reconciliation” from March 21 to May 22 of people aged between 30 and 90.

South Australia’s pandemic death toll now stands at 440 people.

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