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I had a Victor Meldrew moment this afternoon! It is a generational thing and younger readers will need to check out this compilation of Victor’s comedy catchphrase, “I don’t believe it”. I was checking out the COVID-19 figures in Hong Kong: 1049 confirmed cases, four deaths, no locally transmitted cases since 19 April. The UK and the US have sent infected cases in the last two weeks and there is the problem with repatriation from some Pakistan and India. But quarantine can help. I was shopping in the Mong Kok flower market and there was no social distancing but everyone, without exception, was wearing a mask. Yes, I can believe the Hong Kong figures.

What I cannot believe is what the BBC, the NHS, NICE, Public Health England and the UK government are saying. The BBC is complicit in spreading dangerous misinformation. Regarding COVID-19 they run a section. “What can I do to protect myself”. Does that not just epitomise how sad and selfish the Establishment has become in Great Britain. What makes it even worse is that the section explains how the virus is spread. “Coronavirus spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes small droplets - packed with the virus - into the air. These can be breathed in or cause an infection if you touch a surface they have landed on, then your eyes, nose or mouth.” Yes, absolutely, obsessional cleansing of hands when out and about is essential but coughing or sneezing into a sleeve is disgusting, it is also impractical if you are carrying shopping and holding onto children’s hands. So, WEAR a MASK, to catch the small droplets, “packed with the virus” at source. It is so simple. But that is not the message. I quote using the same emphasis as the BBC, “Face masks do not provide effective protection, according to medical experts. However, the WHO is re-examining whether the public might benefit from using them.The BBC also does quote the NHS as the source of its information.

I really do not know who these "medical experts” are but where is their critical thinking and application of logic and reason? How many more tens of thousand have to die whilst we wait for “science”? I have repeatedly urged anyone who will listen that we must not play a blame game with regard to the presence of the virus spreading around the world, but I think the gloves are off when it comes to who is accountable for the high numbers of deaths that have occurred. In the UK there is some good news. The Scottish government is now advising everyone to wear face “coverings” in busy places such as on public transport or in supermarkets. I bet there was some heated discussion about whether they should use the word “mask”. The Scottish government has set up a dialogue website inviting ideas on how to deal with COVID-19. I registered and posted a simple idea. When in Public the General Public Should Wear Masks. The idea has to have some rationale. The figures are sad but true: 8 May, four deaths in mask wearing Hong Kong versus 3000 deaths in non-mask wearing Scotland. Population density far greater in Hong Kong and absolute numbers of population also greater by almost 2 million. The website allows comments and what was so sad were the number of comments that claim there is no evidence to support mask wearing. What evidence do such people want? An RCT?

I was delighted to see Ruth Waters sharing her experience on The PMFA Journal website. Ruth will be the incoming President of BAPRAS in 2021 and her article was posted on the BAPRAS website and we were kindly given permission to repost it. Ruth was describing being in the front line and demonstrating that plastic surgeons are truly multi-talented and fundamentally, good people. Looking at the picture I was struck that no-one was wearing goggles, but I do hope that these were provided along with the FFFP3 masks. If not goggles, then the face shields to protect the eyes.

Finally, I want to share with you the best news of my day. Purely by chance I found a website for a company called Smart Air. This was formed by Thomas Talhelm, in 2013. He was an American PhD student studying cultural psychology in Beijing. Beijing was notorious for air pollution at that time. He was shocked by how much air purifiers cost. He bought a HEPA filter, strapped it to a fan, did some tests using a particle counter and has never looked back. He has built up a great team of young entrepreneurs and they are doing fantastic work in Asia. Thomas, by the way is now an Associate Professor of behavioural science in the very prestigious University of Chicago Booth School of Business. The Smart Air website is certainly worth a visit to realize what an impact air has on our lives. Read their mission statement. It is simple and yet profound. The company, I am not sure if I should use that term as they regard themselves as a social enterprise, runs a clean air blog hosted on the website. One of the team, head of global affairs, is Paddy Robertson. Paddy is a graduate in aeronautical engineering from the University of Bristol. Paddy wrote a blog which I think is fantastic. The title? 'The ultimate guide to home made face masks for the coronavirus'

This is just one of several blogs concerning masks. Thomas has written a brilliant blog looking at the difference between the N95 and KN95 masks which is complemented by another blog by Paddy comparing mask standards, fittings and filtration effectiveness. Let me leave you with the Smart Air homepage

These guys are smart. They are culturally aware, and I really wish them all the success in their mission. They are globalists and this pandemic has really emphasised the need for a global response to global threats. The obvious threat now is a virus. But air pollution, water pollution, shortage of food and economic disparity are just as deadly.

One last thing. What if UK healthcare workers led the initiative that the governments are so reluctant to take. Read Paddy’s blog. Make masks for yourselves, your families and your friends and wear them when in public. The masks you wear in public are to limit community spread of the virus. Wear a mask and show you care. About others. #byhumanity4humanity.



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Andrew Burd (Prof)

The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

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