Aged care staff across Australia could soon be ordered to wear surgical masks to prevent a surge in the number of coronavirus cases in nursing homes.
Up to 80 residents and staff at Melbourne aged care facilities have tested positive for coronavirus as a second wave of infections sweeps across the Victorian capital.
It is largely staff who are presenting with COVID-19 and they have been told to wear face masks.
Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck said the direction could be adopted in other jurisdictions.
"Of course aged care facilities are quite free to take up that advice more broadly," he told ABC radio on Tuesday.
"But it's specifically focused at this point of time where we know there is community spread."
Senator Colbeck fears the Victorian outbreak could be replicated across the country.
"I am extremely concerned about the situation in Victoria at the moment," he said.
"We were in, I think, very good shape up until a couple of weeks ago.
"The fact we've had 35 residential aged care facilities and home care providers in a week present with cases of COVID-19 is a real concern."
The minister said it was fortunate the infections were mainly among staff, and had not transmitted to patients.
"We're doing everything we can to mitigate that," Senator Colbeck said.
Australian Associated Press