All Australians should consider wearing face masks to protect themselves from coronavirus, one of the nation’s top health officials says.

All Victorians will be required to masks from next week, but Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd says every Australian should “absolutely” consider it.

“I think people should be considering wearing masks, but particularly in those areas where we have community transmission,” he told the ABC on Friday.

Health officials have previously advised people in areas where community transmission is occurring and social distancing can’t be complied with to wear masks.

It comes as Woolworths is encouraging customers and staff in Queensland coronavirus hotspots to wear masks instore from Friday, with the same advice for all of NSW and the ACT from Monday.

The supermarket chain says it wants to help lead the way in reducing the spread of the virus.

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NSW hasn’t enforced mask use in public, but residents are being urged to wear one when social distancing isn’t possible.

Hospital staff in NSW have to wear masks if they are within 1.5 metres of patients.

All aged care workers across Victoria are required to wear face masks.

Professor Kidd has written an opinion article on the benefits of wearing masks to limit the spread of the virus, noting that it should be done in conjunction with physical distancing.

“Physical distancing is still the most effective way we have to stop COVID-19 from spreading – even among people wearing masks. And the wearing of a mask doesn’t mean you can stop practising good hand hygiene,” he wrote this week.

“A mask can help to prevent the person wearing it from contracting COVID-19, and stop someone else from becoming infected.”

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AAP

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