DIY virus protection: Hong Kongers making own masks amid shortages

first_imgSome are turning to DIY solutions — albeit of questionable quality.Judy, a 73-year-old out shopping in the district of Wanchai, was spotted in a homemade mask.”I found the material — my handkerchief, and some non-woven fabric — and I combined them and used some wire for the top, and some elastic,” she told AFP, declining to give her surname.While Hong Kong’s economy reels, business has been brisk on one street in the working-class Sham Shui Po district that boasts many fabric and tailoring shops. A colorful array of cloth masks hangs outside many of the cramped storefronts as shoppers haggle over the din of whirring sewing machines.Elase Wong, a tailor, said she was giving away her face mask sewing design.”Some people couldn’t buy any masks… So if they can make them themselves, that would be great,” she told AFP. “I hope everyone can achieve self-sufficiency.”Pop-up assembly lineThe cost of masks has skyrocketed with scarcity and the government resisting price controls or rationing, as in nearby Macau and Taiwan.A set of 50 simple surgical masks can sell for up to HK$300 (US$40), while the top of the range N95 variety is going for as high as HK$1,800 a box.A film director surnamed Tong was this week putting the finishing touches to a face mask assembly line in an industrial building.”I was shocked by the price of face masks,” he told AFP.”I did some research and realized that masks are not that difficult to make. Why do people have to bear such a high cost? Because there is no production line in Hong Kong”.With the help of an investor he managed to import a machine from India, and plans to ship more. Currently in the testing phase, the device will produce 60-80 surgical masks per minute from Saturday in a dust-free room. Tong said the masks will be sold online for HK$1-2 each, limited to one box per person. The administration of chief executive Carrie Lam says it is doing all it can to secure new supplies of face masks amid a global shortage.Output has been ramped up on a prison labor production line and there are plans to set aside HK$1.5 billion to support the creation of domestic factories.The lack of stockpiles has sparked criticism of Lam, even from among her pro-Beijing political allies.Many have expressed surprise that a city which suffered 299 deaths during the 2003 SARS outbreak was not better prepared.Since SARS, which Beijing initially covered up, Hong Kongers have embraced higher communal hygiene standards and face masks have long been a common sight, especially during the winter flu season.Joseph Kwan, a public health expert from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said widespread mask use during SARS also lowered cases of the common cold that year.In a tightly packed city like Hong Kong, new viruses will “spread like wildfire if nobody wears a mask”, he said. “It would be a public health disaster”. Topics :center_img With chronic face mask shortages in the midst of a virus outbreak, Hong Kongers have started making their own — with a pop-up production line and seamstresses churning them out on sewing machines.In one of the most densely populated cities on earth, face masks have become hot property as people scramble for protection against the new deadly coronavirus.Long queues — sometimes thousands strong — routinely crop up outside pharmacies when supplies are in, and there is anger at the government’s failure to have stockpiled.last_img read more

Irish insurers back auto-enrolment reform, call for 10% contributions

first_imgInsurance Ireland set out a relatively ambitious timescale for launching the reform, suggesting employers begin by contributing 1% of salary – a payment matched by workers – with each group’s contribution rising by one percentage point a year until contributions total 10%.The five-year timeline is more aggressive than in the UK, where minimum contributions will not rise to 8% until 2019, nearly seven years after auto-enrolment was introduced.Australia’s minimum contribution rate only rose to 9.5% in 2014, 20 years after pension saving was made compulsory.However, both union and employer umbrella groups have previously urged the government to forego planned tax cuts and instead divert the money to the proposed pension system, allowing for its introduction to take place without workers seeing a significant decrease in after-tax pay. The report, which set out a replacement rate of at least 50% when combined with the state pension, also called for a focus on “value for money” rather than low cost at the expense of innovative investment.“Excessive pressure on fees and charges may work against the long-term objective of the universal pension to build adequate savings,” the report noted.It added that a simple pension system would be needed to avoid “unnecessary” costs and achieve “cost containment”.In line with the model employed by New Zealand, where new KiwiSaver accounts are assigned to a panel of providers by the revenue office, the report also backed such a ‘carousel’ option.It called on the industry to ensure the administration of the new system is as simple as possible by funding the development of an administration hub, which could help allow pension savings to follow workers to their new employer, removing the risk of stranded savings.It noted that New Zealand and the UK had decided against such a hub approach and suggested the decision had led to increased costs in the long term.“The Hub could also be used by small employers that do not have a pension provider to collect contributions and transmit them to an investment fund chosen by an employee – or allocated by ‘Carousel’ method,” it said. An additional benefit of the ‘carousel’ option would be removing the need for a provider of last resort – in the UK the National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) – which the report said had been launched by the UK government at “considerable” cost.The recommendations come as Ireland’s minority government, in power since February’s election, pledged to push ahead with pension reform.The Irish regulator, the Pensions Authority, is working on reform proposals in parallel to the work undertaken by the URSG, and is set to discuss its ideas at an industry forum attended by minister Leo Varadkar later this week.,WebsitesWe are not responsible for the content of external sitesLink to ‘Universal Pension For Ireland’ report Ireland’s insurance industry has urged its government to learn from New Zealand and Australia when introducing auto-enrolment and backed contributions rising to 10% within five years.In a wide-ranging report, published as the Universal Retirement Savings Group continues to deliberate on the design of any future supplementary pension scheme, Insurance Ireland called on the government to push ahead with the auto-enrolment reform.Kevin Thompson, the industry group’s chief executive, said the report’s proposals could increase pension coverage dramatically – with estimates that approximately 600,000 Irish workers could end up saving as a result of soft compulsion.“Given our demographics and coverage rates, we urgently need a policy approach that maximises participation, achieves simplification of offering and reduces costs,” Thompson said.last_img read more

No. 4 Albany, Tehoka Nanticoke to make season debut at No. 7 Syracuse

first_imgNanticoke’s ability to back defenders down and play around the crease is a credit to his size. Both Porter and Bomberry, who grew up playing with Nanticoke in Six Nations, said it’s something that often deceives opponents.Nanticoke is listed at 6-foot-1, 235 pounds, which would make him the second-heaviest player on SU behind redshirt-freshman midfielder Jack Fiorini, who has four inches on Nanticoke. With All-American senior attack Fields still in the fold for Albany, it’s likely Nanticoke won’t see SU’s top lock-off defender in Nick Mellen. Instead, Nanticoke will likely be challenged by physical, 225-pound Tyson Bomberry, who has also played with Nanticoke during the offseason for the Six Nations Arrows.“He’s very physical,” said attack Brendan Bomberry. “He’s done a lot of work in the gym…I think he looks a lot bigger than people think and a lot stronger than people think, and also a lot faster than people think, so I think he’s going to catch a lot of people by surprise.”Slow startWhile Syracuse lost much of its fall season due to the mumps outbreak before playing a scrimmage, the Orange found ways to make up for lost time. Syracuse practiced briefly before Thanksgiving break and onward. Preseason camp picked up in early January for SU, which has a full-size indoor-turf facility, while Albany depends on good weather to practice outside, Great Danes head coach Scott Marr said.“They should be ahead of us at this point as far as conditioning and their level of play I would think,” Marr said. “They’ve had a couple more scrimmages already and a game under their belts before they play us.”Binghamton was SU’s fifth opponent, including scrimmages, in the last month. Albany has played two opponents, Colgate and Princeton, both in scrimmages. Prior to his team’s scrimmage against Princeton, Marr said his team is still “a ways away from where we want to be,” citing pace of play and the transition game as points of emphasis following his team’s first scrimmage.“There’s nothing better than starting out with a team like (SU) because it really gives you a sense of who you are, where you are and what you have to do to improve to play at that level at the end of the season,” Marr said.Saving faceIn the last three regular season matchups between Syracuse and Albany, the Orange has owned the faceoff-X. With all-time faceoff leader Ben Williams taking most of the draws, SU beat Albany on 63 of 81 total faceoffs. That’s a 77.7 percent success rate, more than 10 percentage points higher than Williams was on his career.Anna Henderson| Digital designer editorAgainst Binghamton, SU displayed what dominant faceoff play can do: limit opponent possessions and control the pace of play. Against Albany, Varello faces a more daunting opponent in TD Ierlan, a sophomore faceoff specialist who won more than 70 percent of his faceoffs last season, ranking second in Division I. Ierlan, a product of Victor (New York) High School, where he played alongside SU attack Jamie Trimboli, won 323 faceoffs in his freshman season at Albany, the most ever by a Great Dane in a single season.Syracuse lost or tied its opponent in faceoffs in all three of its losses last season. No matter what the result is Saturday, it’ll likely be determined, at least partially, by success at the faceoff X. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 14, 2018 at 10:22 pm Contact Josh: | @Schafer_44center_img No. 7 Syracuse (1-0) opened its season with a 21-4 trouncing of Binghamton. SU had goals from 12 players, including five from senior attack Brendan Bomberry and three from sophomore attack Stephen Rehfuss.In the cage, goalkeeper Dom Madonna saved four shots while allowing four goals. SU dominated the faceoff X, going 24-for-29 as a team, with new starting faceoff specialist Danny Varello winning 15 of the 17 draws he took.On Saturday, No. 4 Albany, one of the few teams in the nation not to play yet, faces off with Syracuse at 2 p.m. in the Carrier Dome. The Great Danes have only beaten SU once in 16 attempts. In that 2013 Albany win, the trio of Thompson relatives combined for 10 of their team’s 16 goals. On Saturday, SU will be tasked with shutting down Tehoka Nanticoke, a Six Nations, Ontario, native who is anticipated to bring a similar electric play style to the Albany attack, which already features All-American Connor Fields.Tehoka timeThe wait is almost over. Nanticoke has been hyped up since his time at IMG Academy (Florida), where he was tabbed Inside Lacrosse Magazine’s No. 1 recruit and an Under Armour High School All-American following his senior season.While in high school, Nanticoke played for the Iroquois Nationals at the 2016 U19 World Championships in Vancouver. There, he earned All-World Team and MVP honors while burying 22 goals to accompany nine assists and a bronze medal finish for his team.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIn that same calendar year, Nanticoke played with SU sophomore goalie Drake Porter at IMG. Nanticoke impressed Porter immediately. On the pairs’ second day of practice together, Nanticoke wound up from the crease, and Porter prepared for what he anticipated would be more than a 90-mph close-range rocket. As the goalie stepped toward the ball, Nanticoke released the ball earlier and slower than Porter planned for, and the ball softly floated over Porter’s head. The goalkeeper compared the shot to a knuckleball.“He’d go through the legs when you thought he had no angle, and he’d somehow put it in on you,” Porter said. “He’d throw nine fakes and then do a changeup shot on the crease somehow. He was creative, and he wasn’t afraid to try anything.”Throughout his career at IMG and during the preseason leading up to his freshman year with Albany, Nanticoke has been known for his highlight-reel goals. In a fall-ball scrimmage against Johns Hopkins, Nanticoke backed his defender down to the ground. With the Hopkins defender on the turf, the freshman dashed toward the crease and flung a shot with his left hand from between his legs.last_img read more