Coronavirus by Susan Grimsdell

There’s a new scourge invading the earth.  Coronavirus or Covid-19 to give it its new name.

Many thousands of people have got it, and hundreds have died.  It’s brand new, so none of us has any immunity to it.  It’s causing havoc everywhere.  People are stuck in China, prevented from flying home, shipments of products to and from China are grinding to a halt threatening whole economies, stockmarkets are falling. People are afraid, very afraid.

Masking the problem

Chinese authorities’ response has been to make the wearing of facemasks compulsory.  People elsewhere and everywhere are buying up facemasks, leaving many shops completely out of stock.

There’s only one problem with this.  The masks sold in shops are, in fact, completely useless according to virologists and confirmed by the NZ Director General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield.  If you’re fitted with a proper prophylactic mask, like surgeons in operating theatres, you will be protected, because they fit snugly around your face, but store-bought masks hook over your ears, leaving gaping spaces here and there around the edges.

Virus particles are very tiny, so small that 10,000 of them would fit in the space between the end of a ruler and the 1 mm mark.  The virus particles can sail on through those gaps around the edges where the mask is far from snug, and through the, to them, huge holes in the weave of the material.  They can invade people’s eyes too.

Wasted effort

Despite the uselessness of the masks, tens of millions, probably billions, are being made, distributed, purchased, worn once and thrown away.  20 million a day according to one estimate.  Surely that’s an underestimate when you consider the billion+ people in China alone.

This is a disturbing example of how people are all too willing to believe hype.  How many people have actually bothered to find out the truth about these masks?  Precious few it seems.

What troubles me is that here we are in the era of concern about the planet, about burgeoning landfills and wasteful use of our planet’s finite resources.  When will science and evidence ever prevail?  Not here, not now, that’s blindingly obvious.  You could say it’s as plain as the mask on your face.

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