I understand that the term ‘mask’ is only to be used for surgical and respirator masks in use in the NHS, and which should have been supplied to the social care sector – but were sadly not provided until rather too late, because the government seems unable and unwilling to accept the vital role community services and care homes play in looking after very vulnerable people.
Perfectly understandably, this terminology is to prevent the more rapacious of our citizens rushing out, or going online, to buy up most of the precious stock needed for health and social care.
I completely understand and support all the personal protective equipment (PPE) required for medical, nursing and care staff, but I am not at all convinced of the need for cloth face coverings for the rest of the population. Even Ms Sturgeon, first minister for Scotland, admitted to doubts as to their effectiveness, whilst suggesting use in supermarkets and on public transport.
It appears to me that the main use they have is a psychological one, as they seem to have absolutely no value in preventing anyone catching the virus, and limited use in the spread of transmission through the coughs and sneezes of infected individuals. The reality is that, even in this very limited way, a clean face covering would be needed for each and every journey.
After every use, they would need to be washed at 60 degrees in hot water and soap. I suppose they could be bleached, but how long would a bit of cotton material last? And what about the scarves and bandannas suggested? That material won’t be suitable for this cleaning regime, and I can’t imagine anyone will have enough of them to do it.
However, requested by my London family to make them such coverings, I very unwillingly set out to do so. First, I discovered I had got rid of most of my suitable ‘spare’ fabric in clearing my cupboards for a house move scuppered by the pandemic. Having at last found something suitable, I looked at it with a jaundiced eye and headed for my sewing machine and YouTube.
I have never tried to follow a YouTube video and I do not ever intend to do so in future. The participants seem to be very fond of the sound of their own voices and incapable of simple, straightforward instruction without extensive reference to their families, favourite animals, or their personal wonderful contributions to society in general. Either that, or very tedious and repetitive music.
Having battled my way through this, I made three prototypes to send, via the Post Office, to the London contingent, so they can select the most suitable. This has to be done by a younger friend as I am one of the ‘vulnerable’ because I am over 70 years of age, although more than capable of taking my own decisions and running my own life, however I may be viewed by Mr Hancock and the millennials, but I digress.
So I decided that I must try the face covering myself. Should you have to negotiate varifocal spectacles (which you have to look through the lower half to read with), hearing aids to right and left ears, and elastic holding the whole contraption on, round the ears, you would discover it isn’t possible. So, back to the drawing board to make strings. But not by watching Youtube. Actually, I looked so ridiculous that I burst out laughing! And how a suggestion of rubber bands might work, well really…
Actually, I couldn’t understand why I was making such a fuss about the whole thing, but eventually realised the whole exercise was being held back by my lack of belief in the efficacy of the project.
I know that this is a serious subject, and I will have upset some people, but we all have our shortcomings, and mine is an intense dislike of being asked to do something “where the evidence is weak” and no, I will not be wearing a face covering unless specifically ordered to, not advised, by government. And then I will have to go for my once a day walk in the dark.
Image Credits: Gillian Roder .