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Surgical masks required by all staff and patients at DHB facilities

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With the national move to Red all staff, patients, and visitors to Southern District Health Board facilities over the age of 8 years old, will need to wear a medical grade face mask from now on.

While there is still no confirmed Omicron transmission within the Southern district the move to medical masks is designed to protect patients, visitors, and staff.

“Medical masks are much more effective at protecting people from COVID-19 than fabric masks or cloth face coverings. This is something we can all do to help protect our vulnerable patients and our communities,” says Dr Susan Jack, Southern DHB Medical Officer of Health.

“People should also continue to practice physical distancing which means staying at least one meter away from people you don’t know.”

The Southern DHB recognises that not all patients and visitors will have access to medical grade masks.

“Medical masks will be made available for all patients, visitors and staff in both clinical and non-clinical settings,” says Southern District Health Board Chief Operating Officer Hamish Brown.

“All patients are required to wear medical masks unless they have a mask exemption or are physically unable to for clinical reasons. Visitors are asked to wear a medical mask, scan into all areas they visit in the hospital using the QR codes, practice hand hygiene and stay home if they are sick.”

More information regarding mask usage at DHB facilities can be found on the Southern Health website.


Media enquiries:
SDHB Communications

How to wear your mask

  • Medical masks must be replaced as soon as they are saturated, dirty or after a maximum of four hours use.
  • Dispose of your mask responsibly.

Do’s and Don’ts


  • Wash or sanitise your hands before and after handling your mask
  • Hold the mask by the straps
  • Fan it out to cover the mouth, chin and nose
  • Wear it with the blue/coloured side outwards
  • Ensure the stiff strip is at the top and moulds comfortably over the bridge of your nose
  • Securely hook the elastic staps over your ears.


  • Create a ‘figure eight’ with the straps as this creates air gaps.
  • Touch your mask unnecessarily
  • Let anyone else touch or wear your mask
  • Leave your mask lying around or on a table

How to improve the fit of your mask

There are some techniques you can use to improve the fit of your mask:

  • Use masks that have a ‘nose bridge wire’ included – this helps mould the mask across the bridge of your nose
  • When wearing a medical mask, the coloured side (usually blue) faces outward, and the pleats point downward
  • Tuck excess material from your face mask to reduce any gaps around the side of you face
  • Use a mask brace or ear loop clip to tighten your mask against your face to prevent air leakage
  • Consider shaving or trimming facial hair to achieve a better level of fit