Former Natimuk GP and CSIRO director of health and biosecurity business Dr Rob Grenfell said he is 'dismayed' by how the Horsham community is responding to COVID-19 safety measures.
The leading health expert took aim at those flouting restrictions when he was asked if he would wear a face mask during a Horsham Rural City Council-hosted Q&A session on Thursday night.
Dr Grenfell - whose answer was an unequivocal yes - said he tried to avoid visiting Horsham, due to how few people were wearing masks and social distancing.
"I'm not going to be too derisive in this, but every time I go into Horsham it's as infrequent as possible," he said.
"There's a reason why a doctor who knows a lot about infectious diseases is hiding out in Natimuk. There's only 500 people here (in Natimuk) and the chance of running into anyone on the street is not very high.
"When I go shopping in Horsham I'm dismayed by how close people are. I'm dismayed by how close people are standing face-to-face talking to each other. Maybe we've got a lot of deaf farmers in the community and everyone needs to stand close to hear each other.
"The answer here would be yes, I would be wearing a mask if I could not adequately social distance, and that would include if I was shopping. "
Dr Grenfell, who grew up in Longerenong, spent nearly 13 years working as a GP at Natimuk and now leads a team of nearly 50 scientists working to develop potential vaccines for COVID-19.
He stressed it was important people avoided close contact and confined spaces to minimise the spread of the coronavirus.
"The thing we've all probably heard more and more about is the idea of heavy particles, fine particles and mist particles. This is the reason why if in you're in a closed area with people you're not usually around and you can't socially distance, you should wear a mask or take yourself out of that situation," he said.
"It's really more the close contact and the prolonged close contact that is an important part here.
"It comes back to minimising the time you're around people who could be carrying the virus, particularly in confined spaces."
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