To mask or not to mask?

To mask or not to mask?

31-01-2020Reuters/Aly Song

It's always heart-warming to hear of good deeds during challenging time in our lives such as now, so I was delighted to receive an inspiring communiqué from Mauro Sanna, the owner of the feted Olivo Sicilian restaurant chain in Pimlico. Similarly to many restaurant owners, he is valiantly trying to keep his business afloat, maintaining his food store and offering a takeout service. Despite his own concerns, he has also created a daily pizza delivery service to the ICU unit of Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, free of charge. He or one of his team drop off delicious homemade pizzas for the medical staff in ICU to cheer them up and give them some sustenance after a tough shift. The nurses look forward to the treat and are immensely grateful. It is so uplifting to read these stories of hope and kindness. Well done Mauro, and long may your fabulous restaurants prosper.

Levelling off?

In a stark and brutal opener on BBC TV programme Newsnight, presenter Emily Maitlis underlined how Covid-19 was not, contrary to what many claimed, a great leveller and that the rich and poor had a very different experience of the disease. For those manual workers on the front line such as bus, van and tube drivers, care workers, shop assistants and shelf packers, the chances of catching the virus was much higher especially without appropriate protective equipment. She also pointed out how many of the urban poorer classes lived in small apartments with no outside space, and were struggling to survive financially during the crisis. In truth, while some are drifting along in their luxury liners and yachts, others are hanging onto life rafts by their finger nails, or worse, drowning.

Emily Maitlis

In the midst of this polemic the wealthy, spoilt and privileged celebrity set still seem to feel it their prerogative to lecture the public on giving generously to charities while they do what, exactly? I'm also finding the rather cynical coining in of celebrities annoying too. Many are producing songs at this time which are being touted and advertised across social media platforms. With all the views they will make thousands of dollars but how much of that dosh will they put towards the Covid-19 cause or to those on the poverty line? At least the likes of UK personal trainer and chef, Jo Wicks, is doing his on-line warm ups and exercise classes for free.

So Emily Maitlis did indeed hit a raw nerve. The haves and have-nots will have a totally different experience at this time, just like the passengers did on the fateful Titanic. While many wealthy languish in vast homes or on estates with a bulging bank balance, others will be living in grim, packed flats in high-risers, sick with worry about where the next penny will come from, and how they are going to feed hungry mouths.

Smile with your eyes

As we attempt to go about our daily business in these strange times, popping out for a once weekly grocery shop, can prove a tricky game. How do we protect ourselves properly when we visit the supermarket or bakery and are gloves and mask really a great aid? Even if masks are advisable, which type should we be wearing and where can we buy them?

Last week I watched an interesting interview online between my health journalist chum, Alice Hart-Davis, and handsome Italian doctor, Leonardo Fasano. At first I thought he was some A lister celebrity with his fabulous looks but it turns out he's working in a hospital near Manchester! The interview focused on masks and protection from Covid-19 at this time.

Dr Fasano suggested that it was important to wear a mask when out of the house for altruistic reasons -in other words, not spreading your own germs - and also for your own personal protection. He explained that when people sneezed or coughed the micro-droplets could linger in the air for some time so wearing a mask offered extra protection.

So, if masks are so important why did the British government tell us not to bother? Dr Fasano explained that for a mask to prove effective, the wearer must not touch it at all when out and about, and must boil it in a pan for 3-4 minutes immediately when back home. This will kill any bacteria and virus that might have contaminated it. He believes that the government was concerned that the public might not adhere to these strict procedures and could further contaminate themselves.

He explained that surgical masks or the valve variety should be reserved for the medical fraternity on the front line. Instead he advised buying heavy cotton masks that cover the chin, mouth and nose completely. One of the companies he recommended was Lipoelastic based in Mayfair, London, because it offers high quality, durable masks and is a recognised medical supplier. I got in touch to ask if they'd post me masks here in Majorca and had an immediate, friendly response. Although they have only been supplying the UK and US thus far, they have kindly agreed to send masks here. So, they come in either black or white and the price is £14.99. Mine are on their way, and even if it takes some time for my local post office to hand them over, they'll no doubt be needed for months to come. Besides, it's the sort of thing we all now need to keep in the medical chest for, hopefully, just a rainy day. Contact Lipoelastic on either customerservice@lipoelastic.co.uk or via Instagram @lipoelastic

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