In 2003, it was ‘profiteering’ and playing on peoples “fears and anxieties” to sell surgical masks under the pretence that they provided “effective” protection against the SARS virus. Individuals and businesses faced fines of $22,000 and $110,000 respectively
In 2021, individuals and businesses face fines for NOT wearing or carrying around those very same (dubiously effective) masks. Fines are currently $500 and $55,000 respectively.
Retailers who cash in on community fears about SARS by exaggerating the health benefits of surgical masks could face fines of up to $110,000.
NSW Fair Trading Minister Reba Meagher yesterday warned that distributors and traders could be prosecuted if it was suggested the masks offered unrealistic levels of protection from the disease.
“I’m sure everyone would agree that it is un-Australian to profiteer from people’s fears and anxieties,” Ms Meagher said.
“There appears to be some debate about whether surgical masks are able to minimise the effects of SARS.”
Health authorities have warned that surgical masks may not be an effective protection against the virus.
“Those masks are only effective so long as they are dry,” said Professor Yvonne Cossart of the Department of Infectious Diseases at the University of Sydney.
“As soon as they become saturated with the moisture in your breath they stop doing their job and pass on the droplets.”
Professor Cossart said that could take as little as 15 or 20 minutes, after which the mask would need to be changed.
John Bell from the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, who owns a pharmacy in Woollahra, Sydney, said mask supplies were running low.
Mr Bell agreed with Professor Cossart’s assessment regarding the effectiveness of the masks.
“I think they’re of marginal benefit,” he said. “In a way they give some comfort to people who think they’re doing as much as they can do to prevent the infection.”
… “We were told you need 16 layers on your mask for it to offer 95 per cent protection,” Ms Taylor said.Sydney Morning Herald, 2003
Damn those Charlatans trying to pass masks off as something they are not. Throw the book at them!