Idle hands are the devil’s workshop, or something like that. I know that there are some of us wanting to find ways to help during the crisis and making masks is one option that you can explore if you feel the need to a) keep busy and b) do something useful for the community.
In the “Majorca, Mallorca, At Home Together” group there has been plenty of mask making activity going on with local resident Ann Calverley leading the charge. Ann is the kind of lady who likes to be making something, she is always on the go, and always has a project. Right now it is masks, and many, many of them. “I’ve been working on my patterns”, Ann tells me, “ For the ones needed for clinical environments they need something which prevents the virus from getting through and we have included a slot where you can put something like a sanitary towel or panty liner inside which acts like a filter. I know some police officers have been using coffee filters in a similar way. Any seamstress will know what I mean when I say I am using a non woven material, it is like a stiffening material, or Vilene. For the general public cotton cloth masks are fine”.
HELPING THE LOCAL COMMUNITY
Ann tells me about her recent trip to her local pharmacy, “I went to pick up my repeat prescription and I took them some masks, and I said to them, I’ve been told that these are needed. They couldn't thank me enough. And my daughter is making masks as well and taking them to our local supermarket because they need them as well. These people aren’t on the front line as it were, but they are in contact with people all day long”.
HAND WASHING STILL THE MOST IMPORTANT
Dr Shunmay Yeung from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine explained in a BBC video that “One of the reasons that people wear masks is because they think it is going to protect them from catching the virus. But the virus isn’t floating around in the air so the mask is not going to protect you because it is not there. It is probably going to be on your hand if you have touched something that a person with the virus has also touched and then you transmit the virus to your face. The WHO (World Health Organisation) has said that most people don’t need masks unless they are sick or taking care of someone with suspected coronavirus infection. If you are in an environment where everyone is wearing a face mask and you are not then you may feel vulnerable, but logically, if you are not close to people, they’re not coughing and sneezing on you, then a face mask isn’t necessary. The virus enters the body through mucus membranes: the eyes, nose and mouth, and it is transmitted from person to person when we touch those areas, or if we inhale droplets directly from someone who is sneezing or coughing. The best way for the general public to protect itself from this respiratory virus is to maintain very careful hand hygiene, especially when you have been out in public places and touching surfaces that other people might have touched”.
BUT MASKS AND GLOVES DO HELP
Natasha Tiwari, a Psychologist from the Veda Group said that “ We can’t help touching our faces. When we touch our faces, we are calming ourselves down, so it is really likely that we are touching our faces a lot at the moment, our unconscious mind is looking for ways to soothe us”. So although the World Health Organisation has said that people do not need to wear masks, wearing a mask can be useful to remind you not to touch your face, just like the wearing of gloves feels a bit unusual to us it is stimulates us think to twice when we are using our hands, so does the wearing of a mask. You can also wear glasses rather than contact lenses,and make an effort to cross your hands and put them in your lap and be more aware of them. When you come back from being outside don’t forget to clean your glasses along with your outer layer of clothes and shoes.
MATERIALS AND VOLUNTEERS NEEDED
Ann, and the other people making masks could probably make hundreds or even thousands if they could get hold of the materials they need. Currently they are short of elastic and cotton tape which can be used as ties. If you have these materials then please get in touch on the Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/MajorcaMallorca and we will try to match you up with someone local to you. If you want to join in and make masks as well you can find a video tutorial for them here https://www.ecommunity.com/giveppe/homemade-mask-instructions and contact Ann within the group for help and advice if you need it.
Another resident, Tracy Knight has been coordinating with the ayuntamientos and police stations and is able to advise on where the masks are needed the most, you can call her on (0034) 678 151 296. Or just take your homemade masks to your local shop or pharmacy and if you are able to sew and have some materials you can do your bit for your community. Make sure to only take the masks when you would be going to the pharmacy or shop anyway, not extra journeys outside please! Take care of yourselves first!