COVID-19: Auckland epidemiologist Rod Jackson hits back at Winston Peters' mask claims

  • 23/02/2022
Winston Peters and Rod Jackson.
Winston Peters and Rod Jackson. Photo credit: AM

No mask is useless against COVID-19 - that's the message from Auckland epidemiologist Rod Jackson.

Dr Jackson's comments are in response to claims made by NZ First leader Winston Peters, defending his decision not to wear a mask when visiting Parliament's anti-mandate protest grounds on Tuesday.

Peters told AM on Wednesday "the masks being offered these days, unless they're highly surgical masks of a certain scientific and medical content, are a waste of time".

"If you use the wrong mask it's next to useless, you've got to use the right one and all the specialists are saying that, and so why aren't they available for people?"

But Peters' comments were incorrect, Dr Jackson said.

"Winston has no idea what he is talking about," Dr Jackson told Newshub.

With the Omicron variant driving COVID-19 cases high around the world - experts have said a better mask - including N95 - will help protect against transmission. However, well-fitted surgical masks also provide good protection. 

"N95 and equivalent masks are now widely available and you don't need a specialist to fit them," Dr Jackson said.

"Also, no mask is useless. Any mask is better than no mask. 

"It's just that N95 and equivalent masks (eg KN94 and PS2) are much better."

Under red COVID-19 settings, people are encouraged to wear masks whenever they leave the house. They are also mandatory in multiple areas including domestic flights, taxis and at gatherings "except when you have exclusive use of the venue or defined space". 

The Ministry of Health says mask-wearing helps decrease the amount of virus spread by an infectious person and assists with stopping a person from inhaling virus particles.