Covid-19: South Australia to hand out 100,000 free masks amid risk of Christmas wave

South Australia is offering free Christmas-themed masks to residents in an effort to help prevent the spread of Covid over the holidays.

Chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier revealed on Thursday 100,000 masks have been made available at metropolitan testing sites alongside free RAT tests.

“We’re providing these masks to people who are Covid positive, close contacts or symptomatic to help them protect those around them,” she said.

“So please consider others this Christmas and stay away from Christmas parties and large gatherings with any symptoms at all.”

The announcement came as health authorities across the country say a “fourth wave” of infections is beginning to plateau.

As of December 20, South Australia recorded 10,322 cases over the past seven days, after reaching a December peak of 10,754 the week prior.

Elsewhere in the country; Victoria reported 24,843, Queensland reported 13,538, Western Australia reported 11,396, Australian Capital Territory reported 3,073, Northern Territory reported 693 and Tasmania reported 3,906.

New South Wales, which has seen the largest daily cases spike in Australia, recorded 38,610 in the seven days to December 22, down from a summer high of 40,695 the week prior.

Over the last week, 107,199 cases of Covid were reported across Australia, an average of 15,314 cases per day.

No Australian state or territory has re-implemented mask mandates ahead of the holidays, however masks are required in medical settings and recommended on public transport and indoor public spaces.

In recent weeks, experts have warned increased socialisation during the Christmas season would likely increase infection rates.

NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant told residents of the state to wear face masks around the vulnerable and in crowded settings as “transmission remains high”.

“Wearing masks is an effective measure, but it is a personal choice, but think about those around you,” she said.

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