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

Papua restricts entry as concerns mount over lack of facilities to treat COVID-19

first_imgPapuan People’s Assembly chairman Timotius Murib emphasized that restricting access to Papua was needed to prevent a surge of COVID-19 cases.“We appreciate this decision. It is the right course of action to protect indigenous Papuans from the threat of death,” he told The Jakarta Post on Monday.Timotius hoped this was a positive sign that Papua could overcome the spread of the novel coronavirus and asked for the public’s participation to fight the disease.“This does not mean that the people [in Papua] are free to move around. [They should] adhere to the government’s appeal not to gather and to stay at home,” he said.Papua has limited daily community activities to eight hours, from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Meanwhile, large gatherings, including religious worship, were restricted starting on Wednesday.Separately, Papua COVID-19 response team spokesperson Silwanus Sumule conceded that the handling of COVID-19 in Papua was a cause for concern because the province lacked the necessary medical equipment, including rapid testing kits to examine swab samples from suspected patients.Read also: Greater Jakarta failing as floodgate to nationwide COVID-19 epidemic“We need seven to 10 hours to examine a sample. Indeed, we have received information that the Health Ministry will send us as many as 2,400 rapid testing kits. This is what we are expecting,” Sumule said.He added that Papua had only 45 hospitals, 15 of which were referral hospitals for coronavirus cases. Combined, they have 202 isolation rooms and can accommodate up to 4,500 patients.“If [COVID-19] affected 20 percent of Papua’s populations, that means 800,000 people would be infected. Of those, perhaps 160,000 would need to be treated in hospitals and 8,000 treated in isolation rooms,” he said.In such a scenario, Papua would struggle to treat its own residents, let alone visitors from outside the province, he added.Papua has recorded three confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday, with at least 19 people under surveillance and 716 people under monitoring.“Five among the 716 people are foreigners. Meanwhile, the 19 people under surveillance comprise six in Merauke, two in Biak, one in Mimika, nine in Jayapura city and one in Jayapura regency.” (syk) Papua is set to restrict entry into the province both through sea and air travel in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19 in Indonesia’s easternmost region.Papua Governor Lukas Enembe, together with members of the Regional Leadership Communication Forum, announced the measure shortly after the province’s first two COVID-19 positive cases were revealed on Sunday.”This is not a lockdown; only a restriction. However, we are considering whether it is necessary to completely block [access to] Papua to protect Lapago, Meepago and Animha because they are particularly vulnerable,” Lukas said during a meeting in Jayapura on Monday. The three areas are Papua’s indigenous territories. Lapago and Meepago have nine regencies and five regencies, respectively, both located in the Central Highlands of Papua, while Animha, located in South Papua, has four regencies. The travel restrictions exclude the transportation of goods into the province, Lukas said, asserting that the distribution of various supplies would continue as usual.“The policy takes effect on Thursday and will be in place for the next 14 days,” he said, adding that the provincial administration would evaluate the policy at the end of the two-week period.Read also: Explainer: Will Indonesia be Southeast Asia’s Italy? A review of how the nation is battling COVID-19center_img Topics :last_img read more

Ryan eager to bring home silverware

first_imgThe boss says it’d be great to claim his first piece of silverware since taking charge.Waterford manager Derek McGrath says Tipperary’s achievements so far in the championship have been undervalued.Throw in on Sunday is at 4 o’clock….Tipp FM will have full live coverage, getting underway shortly after 3 in association with Mulcahy Car Sales, Ardcroney, NenaghTipp FM will also bring you live coverage of the Munster Minor Hurling Championship Final between Tipperary and Limerick from 2 o’clock on Sunday with thanks to O’Connell’s Centra, Church Street, Templemore. Tipperary manager Michael Ryan says winning Sunday’s Munster senior hurling final would be a huge boost for his side.The Upperchurch-Drombane club man’s charges face Waterford in the provincial decider.Tipp had five points to spare over the Déise in last year’s final at Semple Stadium.last_img read more

Three Tipp teams in action in bumper day of GAA action

first_imgThree Tipperary teams are in action this afternoon in ladies football, hurling and gaelic football.First up the Tipperary Intermediate Ladies football team meet Clare in the Munster Final, which gets underway at 1.15pm in Mallow.The girls are chasing their second Munster title in a row. Their manager Shane Ronayne says it’ll be a tough battle…Throw in is at 1.15pm at Mallow GAA Complex, and Tipp FM will have updates of the game across the afternoon.Then at 2 o’ clock it’s the turn of the senior footballers, who face Cavan in a must-win qualifier in Kingspan Breffeni.Both teams have shaken up their starting sides, making four changes each for their qualifier game.Tipp manager Liam Kearns says it’s a big ask to beat Cavan in their own back yard…Throw in this afternoon is at 2 o clock at Kingspan Breffni, and Tipp FM will have full live commentary of the game in association with Cahir House Hotel.Then this evening at 5, thousands of hurling fans will head to Semple Stadium for a double header of action.Tipp face Dublin in another must-win game, and that’s followed by Waterford and Kilkenny.Tipperary have had a sluggish start to the championship season, and former All Ireland winning captain with Tipperary Tommy Dunne says the Premier need to get their work rate up…Throw in is at 5 o clock this evening, and Tipp Fm’s live coverage comes in association with Mulcahy Car Sales Ardcroney, Nenagh and Thurles Dentist Dot ie. Cathedral St, Thurles.last_img read more

Appeal filed by activist group against oil companies

first_img– over alleged non-approval of environmental permits A group of local activists have filed an appeal in the court challenging the legality of the Government in granting production licences to two major oil companies without first granting them an environmental permit to operate offshore Guyana.Ramon Gaskin, one of the group’s members, in whose name the application was made against the Government and Natural Resources Minister, said the appeal is at the Guyana Court of Appeal, challenging a High Court judge’s decision not to grant a temporary order against oil companies Hess and Nexen.Activist and Attorney, Melinda JankiGaskin, an outspoken economist, told Guyana Times on Sunday that although the Government has since come out to state that it would defend the companies, the group has decided that filing the appeal would be most appropriate to get the Government to ensure the full protection of the environment.The activist views the judge’s non-approval of the temporary order as an error in the law. He maintained that the case must be taken seriously, as there are provisions within the Environmental Act and the application of the environmental law to ensure that permits are granted in full.Gaskin, through his attorney, Melinda Janki, argued that Hess and Nexen are not covered by the environmental permits issued to ExxonMobil through its local subsidiary, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited. As such, he wants to see that these companies are issued separate permits to operate.Janki said Government’s granting of licences to drill was illegal. Under local law, a licence to drill can be granted only if an environmental permit has been obtained by the company involved.“It is very simple. If you want to extract oil in Guyana, you need an environmental permit in order to get a petroleum production licence… Only one of the three companies involved has an environmental permit. We are seeking an order to quash the decision by the minister to issue the licence, because we are saying he acted illegally,” the attorney told the UK Guardian recently.Despite her comments, the Government has said that while it respects the right of every citizen to seek recourse in law in pursuit of interests it believes to be worthy, it feels confident that every action it (Govt) took with regard to the issuance of the petroleum production licence met all legal requirements.The Ministry of Natural Resources has said that this sort of action is not unusual in emerging oil economies, particularly during the stage leading up to first oil, at which Guyana currently is.Since filing the appeal application, the group of activists, have launched a campaign through Crowd Justice, dubbed “A Fair Deal for Guyana – A Fair Deal for the Planet.” Gaskin said the objective of the campaign is to raise funding to ensure that Government and the oil companies obey the law, and to enable concerned citizens to protect the environment for present and future generations.While the lawyers for the group have been offering pro bono work, it has been recognized that it’s a huge undertaking to challenge the Government and what they described as the powerful oil sector. The activists said Guyana has a strong legal regime for protecting the environment. As such, they intend to use these laws to safeguard biodiversity and protect the environment for present and future generations.“We know it will require significant legal time and costs. Nevertheless, we believe that we must do everything legally possible to protect our common home, and to ensure that the Government and the oil companies obey the law. We owe this to our children and grandchildren,” the group said.More importantly, however, the group said it recognizes that the seas surrounding Guyana are under threat by these big oil companies. It said it also believes that the Government is putting the natural world and the home of all Guyanese in danger, something that it is not prepared to allow to continue.The group also noted that no one seems to be paying attention to the impact of oil production on global climate change, which, according to them, is the biggest threat to life on earth.last_img read more