JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Masks do help, even (maybe) stopping 75% of influenza, and you can make them

In the West the public have been discouraged from wearing face masks, and told they aren’t much help. This is mostly because they are “much help” and the front line docs and nurses really need them but no one in charge ordered enough in advance, and none of them had the honesty to say so. The daft push-me-pull-you messaging of how the useless masks are needed on the front line will go down as a case study in how not to communicate (or build trust). The truth is we do want people to wear masks in the street, because it almost certainly does slow transmission. (These Lancet authors think so too).

In high density East Asian nations, face masks are common. (And viral growth curves are generally slower, though for lots of reasons.)  Possibly after Coronavirus has gone, masks in winter might be more common here too.

Things can change fast:

Kamil Chudačík, twitter:

In Czech Republic we went from: “Look at the idiot wearing a mask!” to “Look at the idiot not wearing a mask!” in 2 days. I can say the czechs are very conservative in terms of changes so I’m surprised by this behavior.

The DIY mask industry

Medical staff need face masks because they do filter out small enough particles. They reduce the rate of infection. There are scores of papers. And if no medical masks are available, then even home made ones are better than nothing. Right now, teams of home sewers are getting organized, making as many masks as possible. Patterns are being shared online, and since medical masks are running out, some hospitals are even keen to get the home made sort.

In Czechia, a Facebook group called “Czechia Sews Masks” has 33 000 members.

The most useful mask is the one you wear

Another line we are told is that only the N95 (or P2) masks are good enough, but just about any old mask helps.

We’re told plain old surgical masks are just to “stop patients getting doctor germs”. But even these are surprisingly effective compared to the higher quality masks. In 2009 during the swine flu researchers asked parents looking after sick kids at home to take part in a study. The 286 parents were randomly assigned to wear one or none of these masks, mostly they ran out of enthusiasm, with only 25% managing to comply with wearing the mask for five days in a row.  But of those who did wear either type of mask, the rate of getting the flu was about 25% compared to parents who didn’t wear a mask. And surprisingly the N95 mask wasn’t statistically different from the surgical mask, even though the N95 is thicker, and considered to be much better. Of course, it could be that the sort of diligent parents who kept the mask on also had more self-control and were better hand-washers too. But in hospitals where staff do wear masks,  larger studies with 2,000 healthcare workers showed similar results (suggesting that surgical masks were just as good as the N95 masks.) Though in many other studies the N95 masks were more effective. Perhaps it depends on how well they fit. Perhaps most of the benefit is in stopping people touching their face and biting their nails?

 SmartAir Filters has a a really impressive easy-to-read description of different masks, studies, and all kinds of tests — including particle size, and comparison tests of different materials – like tea towels and pillow cases.

Coronaviruses are only 60 – 140 nm in size, insanely small, but masks are still able to filter them out. Though obviously the fit matters and air will easily leak around a poorly fitted mask. But SmartAir also use a fancy “fit-test” machine which can compare the air inside and outside the mask, and that’s while someone was wearing it. It’s a good analysis.

Do-it-yourself mask materials:

Tea-towels were surprisingly good. Double layering them made them theoretically just as good as a surgical mask (apparently). The researchers felt that they were not so easy to breathe through so, so they recommend t-shirt and pillowcase material instead. While they aren’t as effective at filtering, they are more comfortable and more likely to be worn.

Masks, materials, effectiveness.

….

Even a scarf caught nearly half of all the particles.

Taiwan is making 10 million masks per day.

 Masks are reusable (with care!)  Smartair recommend hanging the mask in the sun for a few hours. So drying it out and leaving it for three days. But do be careful taking the mask off. There are bound to be youtubes to watch on how to do that correctly to minimize the risk of contamination. I”ve heard that is the most risky time.

 

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Rating: 9.8/10 (56 votes cast)
Masks do help, even (maybe) stopping 75% of influenza, and you can make them, 9.8 out of 10 based on 56 ratings

144 comments to Masks do help, even (maybe) stopping 75% of influenza, and you can make them

  • #
    PeterS

    Interesting. Yet we allowed China to ship millions of our high quality mask out of our country and we are to make do with home made masks albeit as shown still better than nothing? Just another example of us as a nation dropping the ball. We’ve dropped so many balls over the years I believe it’s now time to stop dropping any more and start picking up those we’ve dropped.

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    • #
      yarpos

      if only hindsight worked in advance

      120

      • #
        PeterS

        In many situations yes but in this case the warning signs were there for all to see. The issue then is not hindsight but “head in the sand”. People like myself have been warning of the balls being dropped by our political “masters” for years but were repeatedly ignored.

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        • #
          OriginalSteve

          This will be interesting – Fauci is kicking against the Establishment. Will he get replaced?

          Background –

          If the Establishment is involved…er….no thanks….

          Hopefully if the choloroquine solution truly does work, it will be a real alternative, but also a huge threat to control exerted by Big Pharma through Big Govt.

          https://nationalfile.com/president-trump-vs-bill-gates-on-treatment-fauci-has-a-100-million-conflict-of-interest/

          “President Donald Trump is fighting to find a medical solution for Coronavirus in the short term, expressing hope that the anti-malaria drug Chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine can help patients suffering from the Chinese virus.

          “The truth is that President Donald Trump is locked in an intense power struggle with Bill Gates, who is pushing his vaccines, which will not be available to the public until after November’s election. Gates has a lot of pull in the medical world, he has a multi-million dollar relationship with Dr. Fauci, and Fauci originally took the Gates line supporting
          vaccines and casting doubt on Chloroquine.

          “National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID, a division of National Institutes of Health, NIH) director Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is represented by the Aurumn Speakers Bureau, initially criticized Trump’s hopeful assessment of Chloroquine, saying in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper that “There’s no magic drug for coronavirus right now,” and lectured, “Let me put it into perspective for the viewers .. there has been anecdotal non-proven data that it [chloroquine] works… but when you have an uncontrolled trial you can never definitely say that it works.”

          “But now Fauci has changed his tune and launched a public relations campaign huddling closer to Trump. Fauci said that he would definitely prescribe Chloroquine for patients. “Yeah, of course, particularly if people have no other option. These drugs are approved drugs for other reasons. They’re anti-malaria drugs, and they’re drugs against certain autoimmune diseases like lupus. Physicians throughout the country can prescribe that in an off-label way. Which means they can write it for something it was not approved for.”

          “Fauci is changing his tune as the true behind-the-scenes story is coming to light:

          “Bill Gates Cast Doubt on Chloroquine And Said He Is Running A Study On It

          “Here is what Gates said regarding Chloroquine in a Reddit Ask Me Anything session:

          ““There are a lot of therapeutic drugs being examined. This is one of many but it is not proven. If it works we will need to make sure the finite supplies are held for the patients who need it most. We have a study going on to figure this out. We also have a screening effort to look at all the ideas for Therapeutics because the number being proposed is very large and only the most promising should be tried in patients. China was testing some things but now they have so few cases that that testing needs to move to other locations,” Gates said.

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    • #
      • #
        Bulldust

        Too long do not watch … we are a Chinese colony now in case you didn’t notice. I have nothing against Chinese people, just so we’re clear. It is the Chinese Government which is becoming a real problem globally.

        30

        • #
          Environment Skeptic

          Why not just build an electrostatic precipitating air cleaner?
          These can actually pull a virus out of thin air.
          https://www.berriman-usa.com/pdf_brochures/friedrich_c90b_sales_brochure.pdf

          Hardly a massive endeavour to build electrostatics in to a personal respirator from my studies so far..

          Are there any views out there on electrostatics?

          20

          • #
            Environment Skeptic

            They work well. The thing I like most is that the ES filter elements are so washable. A well looked after electrostatic air cleaner should last many lifetimes.

            And they can be incorporated into personal air filtration means so easily. I am a big fan of electrostatic air cleaners.

            00

  • #
    Yonniestone

    Besides the paper and surgical masks we’ve been using our motorcycle neck/face warmers out on the rounds (its cold enough anyway), I’ve got an old neoprene biker mask that would be good but its got a big skull mouth printed across it so it might freak people out looking like one of the four horsemen.

    And I looked, and behold, a pale Honda! And its rider’s name was Death, and mail followed him.

    At a local cafe the barista was wearing a small mask I said “that’s an interesting surgical mask” she said “its not, its a coughy filter”

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    • #
      Environment Skeptic

      The same kind of confusion happened during Fukushima when all of a sudden, there were a lot of paper masks before it was realised only the full face mask with cartridge filters were the go. Then all of a sudden the paper masks amongst the Tepco nuclear power plant workers especially disappeared. From then on, full face masks were worn with air valves etc.

      Just some old and probably not so accurate memory.

      01

      • #
        Environment Skeptic

        Very similar to the respirator worn by Vladimir Putin is a minimum requirement. Only a respirator as worn and demonstrated by him so far amongst other examples are of any reliable value. Especially not so for those external to the respirator. In this case, in the event of sneezing, the plume of sputum/etc is released through the air valves from the wearer out of the valves or the sides of the imperfect seal of a paper mask. In the case of respirator with air valves, reverse flow of air is filtered going into the mask, however, the movement of possible contaminated air from the wearer is not filtered when it is exiting the valves going out of the mask..

        00

  • #
    Travis T. Jones

    The guy behind the doomsday Imperial College model now says he expects UK not to run out of ICU beds and UK deaths “unlikely to exceed 20,000 and could be much lower.”
    https://www.newscientist.com/article/2238578-uk-has-enough-intensive-care-units-for-coronavirus-expert-predicts/

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  • #

    Masks help block coughs and sneezes.

    Sick people should wear them.

    Masks just catch the germs from other’s nearby coughs and sneezes, for healthy people, who may touch the germs when they remove the mask.

    The masks are most needed by medical staff and sick people — there are not enough for them right now, and for healthy people too.

    Following the advice in this article could cause other people, who need masks and can’t get them, to die.

    Social distancing works.

    With or without masks.

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    • #
      Delory

      I think you may have missed the point of the article. If you DIY your own mask, you have created something that otherwise did not exist. It is not reducing the number available for medical workers, but adding to the total available in the population.
      Some argue that masks are to stop sick people spreading their germs. I suppose if everybody starts wearing masks (THINKING that it to keep them healthy) then those who are at early stage sickness will also be reducing the infection rate which effectively increases the ‘social distance’ factor… which is good too…

      See my comment below (#7) on how to make your own face mask from reusable supermarket shopping bags (Non-woven polypropylene), which is the same stuff as surgical masks are made from. My wife is a surgical assistant, and thinks this is a great way to increase the number of masks for the general populace without impacting the
      medical supply chain.

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      • #
        ColA

        Delory you are right, making our own if necessary is the way to go.

        The most useful mask is the one you wear

        is spot on!
        Everyone wears a mask in Asia and we should be wearing a mask in Australia when outside. The masks stop us from getting others CV19 and they also stop us giving CV19 to others, they also block hand to mouth transmission.

        Best vacuum bags are KIRBY cloth bags, they are HEPA quality filters as good as surgical masks, but any other vacuum bag will do a good gob as they are all made to breath and filter.

        73

    • #
      Delory

      SNIP [ Duplicate ] AD

      10

    • #
      Delory

      SNIP [ Duplicate ] AD

      00

      • #
        TedM

        3 out of 3 Delroy.

        20

        • #
          Delory

          Yeah – my bad. I went to edit my post, and my reflex actions were too accustomed to other software I use. By the time I realized my error, it was too late… Is there anyway I can delete the first two posts?

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    • #
      Sunni Bakchat

      Richard Greene, Are you a member of the health care fraternity by any chance? Social distancing clearly doesn’t work. Every country that has tried this has seen infection rates climb steadily. How do we know who is sick when carriers are asymptomatic for up to two weeks?

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      • #
        TedM

        Social distancing if applied correctly, is universal. Has nothing to do with knowing who is infected or not.

        62

        • #
          Sunni Bakchat

          You’ll recall the post that included the link to the Covid Act Now website. “Social Distancing” was discussed and charted as an epidemiological strategy. I took social distancing in the context of that meaning. If you are referring to Social Distancing in the context of keeping a minimum distance from others to mitigate infection, there’s no doubt this reduces risk considerably. Given however human nature and the fact this virus’s vectors are still not entirely clear, the universality of social distancing as an absolute mitigation approach is far from certain. A more careful approach would be to engineer greater certainty and redundancy into the process to reduce risk as far as possible. Humans are fallible, less critically so when wearing a mask than when expected only to keep a safe and anti-social distance.

          By way of example, i’ve noticed the safe distance becoming closer in my local community as the second week of lockdown has elapsed. The urge for social proximity is strong in humans. The desire to forget the circumstances we find ourselves in is cognitively enticing. It follows that humans will only keep their distance for so long. The momentum of the circumstance suggest formalising personal protective equipment is but the next step toward normalisation of society’s affairs.

          21

          • #
            TedM

            “…the universality of social distancing as an absolute mitigation approach is far from certain.”

            Can we cut the clap trap and just do it properly for the good of everyone. Under the current circumstances it is at the least, common courtesy, at the most life saving.

            Is that too hard?

            31

        • #
          TedM

          You just do it.

          21

          • #
            Sunni Bakchat

            TedM, you clearly did not understand my comments. Tell it to the young people who don’t think they’ll be harmed. Tell it to the older people who live alone. Tell it to my neighbours who’ve been locked up in their homes for ten days now. Keeping your distance as a strategy on its own won’t cut it. We need everyone in masks as well, and that is blatantly obvious now. We also need broadscale, randomised and comprehensive testing. If these things don’t happen we’ll still be sitting in our houses and apartments in six months having watched the number of deaths skyrocket. Surely that’s not too hard to comprehend.

            21

      • #
        Richard greene

        Symptoms usually show up in one to three days

        and rarely over a week

        01

      • #
        Richard greene

        Symptoms usually show up in one to three days

        and rarely over a week

        01

    • #
      Bill In Oz

      Richard Greene, Your advice is wrong
      And will make others sick !!
      If you have a mask wear it
      If you don’t buy or make some !
      Wear them !

      41

      • #
        Richard greene

        People working in hospitals wear masks and get sick so they offer false hope to people with no symptoms.

        02

        • #
          Bill In Oz

          People in hospitals are working close up and personal with very sick people for long periods of time.
          The probability of being infected in very high and thus some unfortunately do get infected.

          So your ‘logic’ is not rational !
          Wear a mask !
          You might save someone’s life if you are infected and now it not.

          00

    • #
      Rereke Whakaaro

      I have seen a number of people wearing masks that they have bought from one of our local building supply outlets.

      You can identify them (the masks), because they have the shape of half an avocado, with a metal strip that holds the mask tightly across the bridge of the nose. These masks are great for keeping dust out of your mouth and nose.

      Unfortunately, the weave of these masks is nowhere near fine enough to prevent the passage of a virus, which are generally orders of magnitude smaller than dust particles.

      It is apparently a new form of Russian Roulette.

      40

      • #
        Sunni Bakchat

        The masks you speak of will usually have a P rating on them which corresponds with the N rating used in health care. The fit may not be as good but the woven material has a filtration rating from the manufacturer.

        51

  • #
    Kalm Keith

    In the long run we need to build our immune systems with as much low grade interaction with nature as possible.

    At the moment though CV19 is dangerous and We Need Masks.

    KK

    70

    • #
      John PAK

      In Au I have seen precious little about maintaining strong immunity yet the over-ridding evidence points to the weak being the most at risk. Our ABC talks about “virus cells” so I’ll not hold my breath waiting for intelligent advice from them.
      A colleague is currently locked in Sydney’s Hilton Hotel along with the pilots and crew of the last flight out of Tokyo. No attempt has been made to give him Vit C or let people sun-bathe on the roof to maintain Vit D levels.
      Ultimately, most of us are going to come across this virus so we need to be as ready as possible.
      Our ABC reports high alcohol sales but then fails to remind us that alcohol is an immune compromising substance. Where is the bleeding obvious advice against polluting the lungs with cigarette smoke?
      Instead we are filled with the usual doom and gloom data about deaths. It might be more useful for people to hear about typical success stories along side healthy life-style options which in reality are the common-place scenario.

      00

  • #
    Delory

    Surgical masks use non-woven polypropylene, which is the same stuff that re-usable supermarket shopping bags are made from. Woven material like cotton, etc.. has ‘holes’ because of the weave, whereas NWPP does not. Here is a link to a good ‘how to’
    https://www.project-cloth-masks.com/make-a-mask

    80

    • #

      So we can produce masks from old supermarket bags and put on designer names and other forms of advertising ? We can make a fortune! Let’s start by making two million, see how they sell for 5 dollars each for Nike named masks and ten dollars for Calvin klein masks, so how much can we sell masks with the woollies name on?

      30

      • #
        Bill In Oz

        At the Mt Barker Fruit & Vegetable market
        All staff are wearing masks as a company policy.
        I know this because I asked.
        I also asked “Why ?
        ‘Because anybody can be infected and not show any symptoms”
        Said the check out girl !’
        Good common sense from an 18 year old !

        80

  • #
    John

    The problem with masks and there removal is the difficulty of doing both properly.

    People will adjust their masks by putting the tip of their finger inside the mask, but that will transferring anything on the finger into their skin or onto the inside of the mask which after adjustment will touch their skin. Sounds simple and obvious but how often do you see people trying to adjust their masks (or even automatically touching their masked face)?

    Removing a mask needs to be done carefully so that exposed skin never touches the possibly contaminated part of the mask. That’s not as easy as it sounds.

    Also, if a mask becomes damp right through then it’s an easy path for viruses to reach one’s skin.

    52

    • #

      I think prince Charles had a retainer to help him with his mask and look what happened to him. Moral, don’t ask a servant to help you with your mask related endeavours but learn how to use it properly yourself.

      31

    • #
      Binny Pegler

      It’s about REDUCING the risk, not eliminating it.
      I think the main advantage is to reduce the spread from asymptomatic people.

      90

      • #
        yarpos

        exactly, there is always a lot of the perfect getting in the way of the good in these sorts of discussions

        90

    • #
      Roger Knights

      “Removing a mask needs to be done carefully so that exposed skin never touches the possibly contaminated part of the mask. That’s not as easy as it sounds.”

      How about advising people to wear gloves when donning and doffing?

      30

    • #

      If someone can find a good video of mask removal I’ll post it.

      20

  • #

    Thanks for a very useful article, Jo. in Japan, even when there is not an epidemic, it is quite usual to see people out and about wearing masks. Also in Japan, it is not the custom to shake hands, but rather bow at a respectful distance. This explains low infection rates there.

    160

    • #
      Lucky

      I have seen bowing in the older generation of Germans, it is quite elegant.

      At a January birthday party I tried to introduce a custom of raising a hand for 4 secs and saying ‘How” (hough). Make it long enough to show it is a ceremony. The 2-year-old got it, the adults, well one chap insisted on physical contact, elbow to elbow, not so bad I suppose.

      00

  • #
    Bill In Oz

    Good post Jo !
    Time for all Aussies to mask up !
    Many people are asymptomatic even when infected
    So we do not know who is infected
    Who is spreading this virus.
    So we must assume all people are infected
    And act accordingly by wearing masks.

    PS WE got a box of masks at the start of February
    Because of your posts & those on Chiefio’s blog.
    But It was bloody naive & stupid of our governments
    Not to introduce rationing way back then to prevent hoarding

    50

    • #
      Sunni Bakchat

      To add to your point Bill. I’ve noticed here in Switzerland at my local supermarkets, anecdotally speaking, a high percentage of those over 45yo are wearing masks. Under this age – absolutely nobody. Including shop staff. We know many are not only asymptomatic; we also know many young people believe the virus will not affect them. Its not hard to see where leadership on this is taking us.

      80

      • #
        tonyb

        Sunni

        We can see this expectation of immortality well exhibited in Switzerland with skiing. The young in particular tend to ski too fast and too close to each other and often beyond their abilities. We used to ski in Leysin and gave it up when ski helmets suddenly appeared and became almost obligatory. which of course meant people thought they were even more immortal and skied even faster.

        We gave up skiing at that point and ironically that was the season that two of our friends sustained serious injuries by skiers going too fast and the helmet itself causing the injury

        10

        • #
          Sunni Bakchat

          So very true. Have skied for 47 years without serious injury. Still going strong. Wife’s family started vineyards in Switzerland in mid 1500’s in Leysin! Moral hazard indeed.

          10

          • #
            tonyb

            Sunni

            In the UK the 1500′s were often very warm with the years around 1540 being rather hotter than currently. So unless Leysin was also very warm and had no snow I assume you mean Le Sepey? :)

            If you did mean Leysin, as a historical climatologist I would very much like to know about it.

            Ps Another recent problem is that many young skiers are not allowed to drive yet and many who are a few years older choose not to. The end result is that you have loads of young ‘immortals’ whizzing round the ski slopes with no spatial awareness that only comes after years of judging traffic speeds and distances. My theory anyway!

            10

            • #
              Sunni Bakchat

              tonyb, you know the area well. You are right. The family also from Le Sepey area. Never found out precisely where they started. The family name was prevalent in both areas. Saw it firsthand in Leysin but not in Le Sepey. Grandparents always spoke of Le Sepey. Said they were Huguenots. They brought their wine growing skills to Australia in the 1850′s would you believe?

              00

  • #
    Another Ian

    Chiefio on some odds and DIY masks

    https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2020/03/26/my-odds/

    20

  • #
    Another Ian

    “Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste”

    “Radical Leftists the world over are buzzing with joy at the thought of their wildest dreams coming true as a result of this crisis:”

    http://www.smalldeadanimals.com/index.php/2020/03/26/never-let-a-crisis-go-to-waste-4/

    And

    “China just sold €4,320,000,000. worth of medical supplies came from nationalized US supply chains to Spain, the country with the 2nd highest deaths caused by the Chinese virus:”

    http://www.smalldeadanimals.com/index.php/2020/03/26/chinese-virus-2/

    21

    • #
      OriginalSteve

      Yeah …no surprises there…makes you wonder doesn’t it?

      A medical nine eleven?

      I have no issue with temporary curtailment, *as long as* the freedoms are returned.

      Govts however have a bad track record of taking freedoms and not returning them.

      I’d suggest that we need to be vigilant with that.

      History tells us the USA was set up due to abuse of freedoms in europe….

      80

  • #
    Graeme No.3

    A bit of hope? hydroxychloroquine + zinc over 100 patients.

    https://notrickszone.com/2020/03/26/350-covid-19-test-cases-hydroxychloroquine-tremendous-positive-results-potent-efficacy-no-hospitalizations/

    And from the photo you will see an alternative mask.

    50

  • #
    Annie

    I’ve been using an old basic mask this week. Had a couple of funny looks but most people are fine with it and I even was thanked by a couple! I wash it and hang it out in the sun and wind to dry and sterilise somewhat; then put a couple of drops of eucalyptus oil in it when in use.

    60

  • #

    Masks exported, Ruby Princess passengers get off and go shopping … And so the stuff-ups continue.
    I had a large number of p1/p2 masks, because I was replacing the ceiling of a hall that was built in 1913, and had possums camping above it. I expected a plague of biblical proportions to be coming down with the old ceiling, but it wasn’t too bad, only about 1 tonne of disintegrating cork and possum [excrement]. So I offered about 75 masks to the medics last week. They turned down the offer, but then rang me up to ask for them to be kept. Too late. I heard from a contact in nursing that she and her colleagues were being called in to work, but there were no masks. So she got all of mine to share out. Being a believer in “sustainability for the rest of us” I thought it better if my masks went to those on the front line.
    An ordinary paper p1/p2 mask is only good for about 2 hours in most situations. P2 (N95) with an exhale valve will last longer, but there is nothing that should be expected to last more than a day. So, I’m making washable ones.
    The table of values up top is useful, but I think there is an omission. What about microfibre cloth? Ok it needs care to avoid breathing in the fragments when it gets cut or becomes worn, but two pieces are easy to breath through, and pass the pressure test, eg if properly fitted, the material draws in, fits tight to the face when you breathe in, and balloons when you breath out. Cleaner bags can work, but need replacing frequently because they get wet. HEPA filters don’t work because none of us have 2kw lungs do we.
    The mock-canvas supermarket bags are a bit variable. Some show pinholes when you hold them up to the light – no good.

    [ Changed your word to excrement which is why it went to moderation ] AD

    80

    • #

      Well done for your donation Martin!

      Yes, I agree about the microfibre (there are a lot of different teatowels). When I make masks I will probably hedge bets with a few different sorts of material. (But I need to check out the other suggestions above :- ) )

      10

  • #
    el gordo

    There maybe a second wave coming from unknown sources.

    ‘NSW’s Chief Medical Officer Kerry Chant said authorities were particularly concerned about the 145 cases of COVID-19 which were acquired with an undeterminable source.

    “That is the group that most concerns us because it represents community transmission without an unknown source,” she said. ABC

    50

    • #
      Sunni Bakchat

      el gordo, and yet the epidemiologists running the public advice department in Australia say she’ll be right, we won’t get it as bad as everyone else. They have no idea. They’re flying blind. They are entirely bound by limited testing and who shows up at medical facilities feeling unwell. Community spread will continue until the lockdown is comprehensive and enforced. Until everyone is wearing masks in crowded/enclosed places. Until hand sanitiser is easily available. Until testing is widespread.

      40

  • #

    Moderation? Can’t see why. Unless it’s the reference to possum by-product.
    Some of the DIY masks are excellent, but many would take a while to make. I predict all those second-hand sewing machines are going to disappear rapidly.
    My design is simple, materials readily available. Could be hand-sewn.
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/wvvi1cu1bwpb5hs/Facemask-washable.pdf?dl=0
    https://tinyurl.com/rsbq27p
    I have appended to this document the advice that (allegedly) came from Royal Brisbane Hospital. My sister, former employee of WHO in Geneva, now in 12 week lockdown in Oxford UK, says the RBH advice is the best she has seen. Most of the advice to Brits has been “wash your hands” and not much more.

    30

  • #
    Bill In Oz

    How does Willi’s statistical based thinking at WUWT
    Stack up against the actual lived experience of medical staff
    In Italian hospitals ?

    See for yourselves here : https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-27/coronavirus-doctor-cremona-hospital-decide-who-lives-and-dies/12090912

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    LightningCamel

    Hi Jo, I know I said I was going away and I am but I dropped in this morning and saw this topic and wanted to register my appreciation. There are all sorts of things like this we can do and get through this with our heads high. We can beat this without shooting ourselves in the foot.

    Be well, Selwyn.

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  • #
    a happy little debunker

    Be a hoopy frood – know where your tea-towel is & Don’t Panic!

    Don’t forget May 25th is Towel Day.

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    Lank

    It seems that single use plastic bags and wrappings are now preferable to multiple use shopping bags which are more likely to spread the virus.

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    TdeF

    O frabjous day! I watch it every day and today the log graph of Coronovirus infections for Australia has gone horizontal! That means no numerically significant new infections. Of course it could be a lack of data, under reporting but others are rocketing up.

    With lock down and a population happy to oblige and good weather, it is what you would expect. The government advised hoarding is over. Coffee shops are not taking cash and you have to stand outside.

    What worries me greatly are the 20,000 tourists and 10,000 staff on 14 major cruise ships waiting to dock in Australia. I would direct them all to testing and isolation. Even Northern small industrial ports like Port Hedland. Especially in hot climates to reduce even the need for masks. Most viruses decay much faster in heat. If even the Spring heat will kill them or reduce risk, Northern Australia’s 37C will do the job faster. Pacific islands too. There is nothing like an island to contain a virus. The key is to make sure everyone is tested before release into isolation.

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      TdeF

      I can think of worse things than being stranded on New Caledonia for a month given the rainy season is over. 23 minimum, 26 maximum every day.

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    • #
      RexAlan

      Hi TdeF

      These are the latest figures and breakdown by age and state according to the ABC.

      Charting the COVID-19 spread in Australia

      https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-17/coronavirus-cases-data-reveals-how-covid-19-spreads-in-australia/12060704

      Last updated at 26 Mar 2020, 23:23pm.

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      • #
        TdeF

        Thanks. It’s last last days drop in numbers of new infections which I implied. I hope it is maintained. Fingers crossed. But as said I worry about thousands a day flying in from places including Italy and 30,000 people sitting offshore wanting to get off their boats. It’s a funny time, not really hard as in war time and there is only a loss of freedom, an illusion but still feels real.

        Then there is Jean-Paul Satre’s definition of hell. Locked in a room with your three best friends for eternity.

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        • #
          BoyfromTottenham

          TdeF – personally I am far more worried about the effect of the ‘cure’ – $$gazillions being thrown at the problem by already indebted governments, and many also heavily indebted retail, travel, tourism, landlords and all kinds of related businesses going bust by the time this virus is under control. The global financial knock-on effects could be huge, leading to what – a bad recession or even a depression, maybe bad inflation as well?
          Given this level of risk, maybe the option of letting the virus circulate to generate herd immunity is a better bet – let all businesses operate as normal. What is the value of say 10,000 deaths here in Oz vs trashing the whole economy? Reminds me of the awful decisions that had to be made by Churchill in WW2, knowing that for a single battle tens of thousands of deaths were likely. At least now the virus deaths will probably be skewed towards us old geezers…

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            RickWill

            Given this level of risk, maybe the option of letting the virus circulate to generate herd immunity is a better bet – let all businesses operate as normal.

            Only dingbats would consider this. It is abundantly clear that this virus kills lots of people unless they are treated; many requiring intensive care. It is now clear the fatality figures out of Italy are highly skewed by the triage decisions. This virus can certainly kill young people. Many more young people in Italy would be dead if they were not treated. Right now the UK has enough ICU beds. However it is not far off being overwhelmed. It is a matter of whether the social distancing kicked in soon enough.

            The only way to get on top of it quickly and crush it is to reduce interpersonal contact less than 25% of what is considered normal contact in modern society. Japan already has an aversion to spreading diseases. It is no accident that Japan has 13days/doubling while UK and US have 3days/doubing. UK is no longer exponential. US death toll is still exponential.

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            TdeF

            No, that is not a solution. It is an optimistic hope which will certainly cost hundreds of millions of lives and may not achieve the herd immunity at all, so for nothing. There is no expectation that anyone can develop long term immunity, a cornerstone of herd immunity. It may kill you the second time around if you survive the first. Then it becomes endemic in our society, so waves of plague for ever, if the human race survives it. And then you get mutation.

            This stoppable. All viruses are stoppable. AIDS is stoppable. People just have to stop spreading this inanimate piece of feral chemistry, made only in the body and transferred by touch or aerosol. It can be utterly wiped out by us today. At no cost in lives. And then the others.

            We do not have viral rabies in the country. Should we introduce it? Of course not. And we can eliminate AIDS and rabies and Corona VIrus and in fact all flus. WHy not? WHat is the real cost of these things economically too? A lot of these economic costs are simply a cost of stopping the machinery of business for a few weeks. They are not real costs. Money is fundamnetally worthless. It is just used to exchange goods for services. Or rent things, like money itself. And we no longer even use pieces of paper.

            No, we must kill this thing. Herd immunity is a terrible and unnecessary path of unlikely success which could doom our species.

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      WXcycles

      Of course it could be a lack of data

      It is:

      https://www.Of course it could be a lack of dataabc.net.au/news/2020-03-17/coronavirus-cases-data-reveals-how-covid-19-spreads-in-australia/12060704

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    • #
      ivan

      doesnt look flat to me …is your head tilted?

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    TdeF

    Also sometimes you read medical advice which is funny. “Applying alcohol or chlorine to the body can cause harm, especially if it enters the eyes or mouth. ” Chlorine of course but I worry incessantly about alcohol entering the mouth. Not getting enough mainly.

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    ianl

    I have little expectation of the effectiveness of masks against droplet-based RNA particles of between 20-100 nm. However, I expect using masks in public will become socially de rigeur – not using one will have no social licence.

    For those who are sewing-machine challenged (I can and have mapped out the detailed geology of entire sedimentary basins but I cannot use a sewing machine), and who cannot find supply of masks in the local pharmacies, try Mitre10, Bunnings etc. They supply moulded P1 plastic respirators, made in China of course, to the tradies.

    If you regard these as inadequate, well good luck.

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    • #
      OriginalSteve

      Yeah Ive never cared what people think….so….as long as you are considerate and dont cough or spit on anyone, no one should care…

      I guess you will always get a few who cant think for themselves.

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      • #
        John PAK

        At boarding school in Wales in the 60s we were obliged to carry a cotton hankercheif and were punished for coughing or sneezing without it. I sometimes wonder what happened to common sense and the ability to think for oneself or to consider others’ well-being.

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    • #

      Good luck. Bunnings, Collie Hardware, Mitre 10, Worksafe, Officeworks, all ran out of N95 and P1 masks by Jan 31 in Perth. I bought some a couple of days before at a small lesser known tradie store. Even then there were zero available online. I got some for my parents in Jan.

      Presumably Chinese shoppers posted them all back to Wuhan (where I guess they were very much needed) because the rest of Perth were not buying masks then.

      But seriously, a needle and thread would still make a mask out of a couple of layers of teatowel/pillowcase etc. And, you could even get creative, would you believe, if all you had was a stapler (keep the flat side of the staples next to your face).

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      • #
        ianl

        Late March, my local Mitre10 still has a box full.

        Finding No 10 staples is equally a challenge … oh well :)

        The face seal is not really sufficient to prevent droplets with 20nm particles from transgressing, despite 3M utube statements. There could, and should, be a reduction in the volume prevented by these masks from intruding into one’s airways.

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  • #
    Rocket Rod

    Ok – SUPER IMPORTANT BREAKING NEWS.
    You thought toilet roll sales are crazy.
    Good old TEA, yes Tea is shaping up to be the #1 treatment and maybe cure.
    3 cups a day as being used in chinese hospitals now.
    This is info courtesy of the late Dr Wenliang who exposed the Coronavirus story.
    3 chemical classes are the real heroes.
    I’m on mobile so that’s all for now.
    See you all at the shops!!!

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    • #
      farmerbraun

      Gawd, I hope it’s not Green tea. I’ve gone right off green , don’t know why .
      Anyone tried watermelon tea? Don’t be put off by the green exterior, it’s the pink interior that you want.

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    Lari

    I started making them for my family a while ago, they are two layers of cotton cloth. Not perfect but easy to make.

    I found a pattern here:
    https://www.craftpassion.com/face-mask-sewing-pattern/

    cheers

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    Dennis

    I discovered a 15 piece pack of dust masks in my shed, unopened.

    Only suitable for non-toxic dusts or any gases or vapours, not suitable to protect the wearer when spraying paint, handling asbestos or welding.

    Not perfect protection but better than nothing?

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    AP

    I knew as soon as I read it that the government’s advice on masks was dangerous and incorrect.

    Our leaders are incompetent fools.

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    AP

    As a household, I have 50 n95 masks at home at all times for such an event. Yet our health authorities couldn’t have purchased and rotated adequate stocks? With the hundreds of billions we spend on health every year?

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    • #
      PeterS

      As many of us have been saying for years they have dropped the ball so many times we’ve lost count. Time for them to stop it or lose it.

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  • #
    Randall

    BCF have Multiscarfs (= face masks) for $17. Reusable, and good for us here in the tropics for sun protection when we go fishing. Look good too.

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    RickWill

    What was considered naval gazing a few years back is now real for New York hospitals. Watch this and consider how relevant any data on age and existing conditions are to fatality rates from Covid19 out of Italy:
    https://www.wsj.com/articles/inside-a-new-york-er-as-coronavirus-hits-we-dont-know-how-high-the-peak-is-going-to-be-11585243524

    What happens if New York hospitals run out of ventilators? State officials are considering different options to help in that grim scenario. WSJ’s Jason Bellini spoke to experts familiar with the discussions.

    Once this triage screening is implemented the statistics become highly skewed as they are no longer a function of the disease but a function of the triage decision.

    Apparently New York is providing a lot more useful material to Australia hospitals on treatment regimes as it is the first English speaking region where ICUs are stressed. It also has a high number of teaching and research hospitals so is getting information out.

    Anecdotally, Paris hospitals are in chaos.

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    • #
      Sunni Bakchat

      Most well educated French speak English well. French medicine however is socialised. American medicine is not. Then there’s the small issue of the French having a way of doing things that cannot be transgressed in the short term. It will be interesting to see how quickly the French start using Chloroquine. After all it was a Frenchman in Marseilles who first trialled the combination with Azithromycin!

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    kevin a

    Communist Party of China displaying ‘arrogance’ over deadly coronavirus
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLAey9PZAn8

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  • #
    Raving

    A $2 tn bailout but …”White House Considers $1 Billion Price Tag for Ventilators — and Has Second Thoughts”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/26/us/politics/coronavirus-ventilators-trump.html?referringSource=articleShare

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  • #
    WXcycles

    Germany: Deaths have finally begun to take off in Germany, I’m surprised it’s taken this long.

    Cases 43,938
    New cases 6,615
    Dead 267
    New Dead 61
    Recovered 5,673
    Active 37,998
    Critical 23

    +61 dead and 23 critical (same level for days) suggests almost everyone is dying at home already, due to a lack of treatment, so we’re seeing a lagged rise in the death numbers as bodies are finally being located and tested. Deaths in Germany should really take off from here and resemble France in about a week.

    Switzerland seems to be slowing and Norway appears to be slowing too, both are around 8.5% new cases, as a proportion of their active cases.

    Italy’s % died = 10.2%, but their new cases are up to 10.0% of active cases (~9% the last few days)

    Iran began reporting critical cases.

    Australia’s faux preliminary lockdown is of course showing no indications of limiting the spread, we continue to peg around #16 to #19 in the highest case number countries list, and are currently at #17. There appeared to be a fall yesterday but it was only a lack of reporting in 6 states, we only got NSW’s numbers.

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    • #
      TdeF

      Yes, new infections dropped 30% yesterday. And we are close to the bottom of the list in rate of growth, not total number of infections. It is rate of growth which is everything for exponential growth and overload. We are about 3.5 days for doubling and just today, this graph went horizontal. First get to 7 days for doubling and then watch new infections fall. For our island nation, the growth is also attributable to returning people and visitors, not domestic spread, so there is reason to believe the lockdown is working.

      You have to watch the rate of new infections, not the total number of infections. If new infections can drop, as has just happened, we are on the path to killing this thing. It cannot live and will die within two weeks if it cannot infect new people. This piece of nasty chemistry is produced only by infected humans or it ceases to exist. I am starting to hope we get exponential decay soon.

      And testing of new entries can identify and isolate. We still have few enough cases that we can identify, trace, track and test this thing out of existence unless it can come in by fish.

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      • #
        WXcycles

        That is exactly what I have been watching.

        The horizontal is false, it’s a lack of data from 6 states, ONLY the data from NSW was posted (as I stated).

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      Sunni Bakchat

      WXcycles, thanks for your great posts. They are appreciated.

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  • #
    Pweter

    Dry heat sterilisation has been about for generations.
    The most common time-temperature relationships for sterilisation with hot air sterilisers (for surgery) are
    170°C (340°F) for 30 minutes,
    160°C (320°F) for 60 minutes, and
    150°C (300°F) for 150 minutes or longer depending up the volume.
    This is for sterilisation which is all microbes killed not disinfection which is probably all that is needed.
    WHO says” Heat at 56°C kills the SARS coronavirus at around 10000 units per 15 min (quick reduction)”
    https://www.who.int/csr/sars/survival_2003_05_04/en/
    Put your masks in the oven for a while at lower temperatures (say 80C) will probably be sufficient. The only downside may be the melting of plastic components. The paper should be fine.
    Please note. I am not a scientist. Do a little research online.

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    TdeF

    And I don’t want to wear a mask for the rest of my life. Or catch flu again. Wouldn’t that be great!

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    Tides of Mudgee

    The Video featuring Doctor Vladimir Zelenko and his successful tests for corona with hydroxychloroquine and Zinc has been removed, stating “This video has been removed for violating YouTube’s Terms of Service.” Is this odd? ToM

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    • #
      Sunni Bakchat

      Zelenko stated he loves Trump. Its a trigger for Millennials who work for Youtube.

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        Tides of Mudgee

        Thanks Sunni, I think. So even a glimmer of hope in a disastrous pandemic can’t stop the bias? Jeez. ToM

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        • #
          Sunni Bakchat

          I can only imagine the left thinks it is protecting someone. Bloomberg’s network also reported a negative story on Chloroquine today. The usual suspects politicising. Thankfully there are stories from health care professionals popping up all over the world saying the Chloroquine based therapy is getting excellent results.

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      farmerbraun

      Comrade Zelenko was a known agitator. His anti-viral views were well known to us. We have had to take certain steps to protect the people’s revolution.

      Central Command.

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    • #
      Another Ian

      Not only him

      “Thought Violation – Twitter Suspends Treehouse Account…”

      “Comrades, the Twitter Directorate of Narrative Approval has found The Conservative Treehouse in violation of state interests for challenging acceptable thought around the coronavirus pandemic. Dissent cannot be tolerated:”

      https://theconservativetreehouse.com/2020/03/26/thought-violation-twitter-suspends-treehouse-account/

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  • #
    Dipole

    A quote from Smartairfiters

    “Maybe virus particles are actually easy to capture because they fly on water droplets.”

    My thoughts too, I spent my working life, half not wearing a standard surgical mask and the latter half wearing one. The difference to my health was remarkable, must less infection wearing the mask.

    Coughing produces droplet sizes of 0.62-15.9 microns,average 8.35,they are the airborne vector for the virus (0.1 to 0.2 um) and that is why the mask, of varying materials works.

    Don’t get too obsessed with the small virus size, it needs an airborne vector.

    Masks are cough droplet catchers.

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  • #
    Springdam

    Graeme at #12. A bit of hope, I would suggest it’s the best suggestion to date and health departments need to jump on this asap if not already. Question of course is how much is available in Aust.? A good idea using face masks but be aware of virus entering through the eyes.

    01

    • #
      Sunni Bakchat

      The point is that wearing a mask is beneficial to stop the spread from the vast majority who are asymptomatic. This is how the disease is spreading exponentially. Without testing we can’t make the carriers visible.

      Its not about you. Its about protecting the group through self-sacrifice. Wearing a mask stops the spreaders from spreading until we can test everyone regularly.

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      • #
        RickWill

        It appears that some of those known to have the virus have been taking little care in avoiding spread.

        The hotspots in Melbourne can be traced to the group from Aspen who have spread it through Toorak, South Yarra and Portsea.

        Passengers from Ruby Princess are responsible for half the cases in SA.

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      • #

        Sunni, here’s the thing though — masks do reduce the risk of catching the disease. They are worth wearing even if you know for sure you do not have covid-19 (because you’ve been in isolation for two weeks).

        Those parents who wore masks stopped 3 out of 4 infections of influenza. That is amazing.

        We are crazy for not having informed people about this and at least offered people the chance to reduce the spread of influenza — which still carries a high cost to society.

        A 75% reduction in flu is better than the result from getting a flu vaccine. Though it would require wearing the mask all the time (unlikely), but if people at least wore one while looking after a sick person, that would still help.

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        • #
          Sunni Bakchat

          Entirely agree. Benefit greatly outweighs inconvenience and inherent risks of mask itself.

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  • #
    STJOHNOFGRAFTON

    DIY masks? Repurpose unwanted brassières. Cups & elastic ideal. Be creative with funky designs but be scientific. The laughs you get will contribute to public cheer. A win for everyone!

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  • #
    Ross

    This will get the tongues wagging. The UK has officially down graded the Covid-19 status

    https://www.gov.uk/guidance/high-consequence-infectious-diseases-hcid

    10

  • #
    Another Ian

    More government helping

    “BUREAUCRATS IN THE USSA CREATE HAND SANITIZER SHORTAGE”

    https://richardsonpost.com/danielg/16869/hand-sanitiser-shortage/

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  • #
    Rocket Rod

    …and here is the info as promised:

    Dr. Li Wenliang, China’s hero doctor who was punished for telling the truth about Corona Virus and later died due to the same disease, had documented casefiles for research purposes and had in the casefiles proposed a cure that would significantly decrease the impact of the COVID – 19 Virus on the human body.

    The chemical Methylxanthine, Theobromine and Theophylline stimulate compounds that can ward off these virus in a human with at least an average immune system. Whats more shocking is that these complex words that were so difficult for people in China to understand is actually called Tea in India, YES, our regular Tea has all these chemicals already in it. The main Methylxanthine in tea is the stimulant caffeine. Other Methylxanthines found in tea are two chemically similar compounds, Theobromine and Theophylline.

    The tea plant creates these chemicals as a way to ward off insects and other animals. Who would have known that all the solution to these virus would be a simple cup of TEA. and that is the reason so many patients in China are being cured. The hospital staff in china has started serving tea to the patients 3 times a day, And the effect is finally in Wuhan “The centre of this Pandemic” has been contained and community transmission has almost stopped. Its a whatsapp message circulating.

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    • #
      Bill In Oz

      Why was he not taking his own medicine then ?
      Drinking lots of tea ?
      He died unfortunately
      So this seems implausible Rocket !

      10

      • #
        Chad

        Maybe he could not drink the tea after “The State” sewed his lips together and chopped off his hands !!
        Do you really think he died of the Virus ?

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  • #
    ren

    In countries where the number of infections is increasing rapidly, the weather is very variable. There are large temperature jumps from day to day. Lows are now in Italy, Spain, in the states of New York, Washington, California and New Jersey.

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    kevin a

    China essentially treats Australia ‘like a shopping mall’
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnaFiLYdopc

    Second company sent ‘90 tonnes’ of Australian medical supplies to China
    Exclusive video shows surgical masks at Perth airport being airfreighted to China last month during the peak of the country’s outbreak.
    https://www.news.com.au/finance/business/second-company-sent-90-tonnes-of-australian-medical-supplies-to-china/news-story/be74b7679d7c8cb910d0f34713b2f008

    10