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The importance of proper mask wearing

Written By: - Date published: 8:58 am, January 27th, 2022 - 55 comments
Categories: australian politics, business, covid-19, Economy, health, labour, national - Tags:

The comments session of this site has seen a vigorous debate about issues concerning Covid.  Some, including some authors, question the severity of the threat posed by Covid and believe that corporate interests are being advanced at the cost of what is good for society.  I certainly agree that corporate interests are being advanced.  I am however a firm believer in the scientific consensus that the vaccines are safe and are working.  Aotearoa’s recent experience, where we have pretty well beaten back a Delta incursion on the back of one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, is testimony to this.  Yesterday there were six people with Covid in hospital and no one in ICU.

Meanwhile business interests and some in the media are pushing the line that the Government has commandeered their supplies of Rapid Antigen Tests.  Ashley Blomfield has denied this is the case.  What the Government has done is prioritised its order so the suppliers will have to wait longer.  Ruling in the National interest is what Governments should do.

Blomfield’s response is set out in this Spinoff article:

“We’re not commandeering all the stocks that private businesses have,” said Bloomfield, in response to a report in which businesses claimed the government was doing precisely that.

Speaking at parliament this afternoon, Bloomfield added: “We have discussed with our three main suppliers that forward orders of tests that haven’t yet arrived be consolidated into the government’s stock, so that is there for the whole country, including private businesses. We already have processes in place to supply businesses with tests. This is an interim measure while there’s extremely high demand.”

It must hurt the plans of some businesses.  In Australia there has been a massive shit storm over the failure of supply of rapid antigen tests and the price gouging that has occurred.  Things were so bad there that the Government has made price gouging punishable by either a $66,000 fine or five years jail.  Tests were meant to cost up to AUS$11.95 wholesale but there were reports of tests being advertised for AUS$250 each.  Jacinda Ardern has clearly indicated that this will not happen here.

Should the Government have secured more tests earlier?  Probably although the current system, requiring the more accurate PCR tests and central collection of test results, has served us well.  Allowing widespread use of RAT tests would increase the number of wrong test results and there is no certainty that someone who tests positive may either ignore the result or keep testing until they have obtained a potentially negative result.

There clearly has been Health Ministry indifference to the rapid antigen tests and Omicron is a recent occurrence.  But there is now a race against time in getting sufficient numbers of tests into the country in time.  I bet Health Ministries fingers are crossed.

The other aspect of current importance is the correct wearing of masks.  As I walk around the streets of West Auckland I am pleased to note that pretty well everyone is wearing a mask.  But so many people are not doing it correctly.

As I indicated earlier I am a firm believer of the science but I acknowledge that others have formed clearly held views that the vaccine roll out is not as important as has been publicly indicated and that the current form of the vaccine mandate is an unacceptable breach of human rights.  There is however one aspect of the response to Covid which for me marks someone out to be clearly a fruit cake.  And that is anyone refusing to wear a mask.  The actual health threats of wearing a mask are miniscule, especially compared to the effects of Covid.  By claiming some right to refuse to wear a mask all you are doing is highlighting that you are a selfish idiot.  The down side of mask wearing is small but the collective benefit is significant.

But masks need to be worn properly.  Whenever I see someone with their nose poking over their mask or holding out their mask to talk it drives me spare.  This negates the benefit of mask wearing.

And mask wearing is one of the most important things we can do right now.   The response of Taiwan and Japan to Covid is directly related to a culture of mask wearing.

And scientists have detected a new Omicron variant, one that is potentially either easier to spread or harder to detect.  The need for a world approach to vaccine equity has never been stronger.

Hang on tight everyone.  The next couple of months are going to get rough.  But by sticking together and taking care of each other and by not being idiots we can get through this.

55 comments on “The importance of proper mask wearing ”

  1. Robert Guyton 1

    We all knew it wouldn't be long before Luxon's mask slipped.

  2. Blazer 2

    Chrome Dome Chris appears to be wearing an aussie mask(4 white stars).

    Maybe he hopes to emulate HonKey Tonks and get Australia's highest honour…the Order of Australia.

    • Gezza 2.1

      The Aussie flag shows the 5 stars of the Southern Cross constellation, (& a sixth, larger seven-pointed one under the Union Jack).

      Luxon’s mask shows only four stars of the Southern Cross, as on the NZ flag.

      • Blazer 2.1.1

        NZ flag has red stars afaik.

        I thought he may have been celebrating Australia Day=yesterday.cheeky

        • Gezza

          Technically NZ’s flag has four 5-pointed red stars that are “centred within white stars”. Or in layperson’s terms our flag has four red stars with white borders.

          Aussie’s flag uses 7-pointed white stars for the Southern Cross, except for the smallest star (Epsilon Crucis) which is 5-pointed.

          • Gezza

            Looks like the mask only uses two primary colours – black & white. That’ll be why they’re white & not red. Just a 2-colour stylistic representation of our flag’s Southern Cross.

            • Blazer

              To be pedantic…Black and White are not primary colours…

              ' in the material world, red, blue and yellow are the primary colors that can be combined to create additional colors of the rainbow. But if you're talking about anything tech-related (as most of us are these days), remember that the primary colors for TVs, computer screens, mobile devices and more, all subscribe to Newton's light-emitting system, so their primary colors are red, green and blue'

              I know what you mean though.-Also he is wearing a silver fern brooch.laugh

              • Gezza

                Must remember that about primary colours. 🙂

                Good spotting of the silver fern lapel badge. (Had to rack my brains for a few seconds. Blokes don’t usually wear brooches.)

                Poor bloke’s gone all out with the patriot display but still got caught with his mask down.

              • William

                To be even more pedantic, because of the way our eyes operate, what that quote calls the primary colours are actually magenta, cyan & yellow. They are the primary colours in subtractive colour mixing, what we dabbled with when mixing paints at school, and what commercial printers use. The confusion arises because the magenta is commonly but mistakenly called red & the cyan is mistakenly called blue.

                The three additive primary colours are red, green & blue. Adding red & blue together gives magenta, adding blue & green together gives cyan, & adding green & red together gives yellow. Adding all three together gives white.

                With subtractive mixing, something that for example appears yellow, is reflecting or transmitting green & red light, but absorbing (subtracting) the blue light.

                That last example probably contains an allegory about NZ political parties 🙂

  3. Ad 3

    Omicron is truly the national interest test that any business should step far, far back from.

    However MoH does not yet play nice with the private sector for example with Te Whanau O Waipereira. Business is never your friend but they can be better co-opted.

    How MoH and the Minister engages with business is a critical measure of how they will perform once the entire MoH machine absorbs the full procurement power of all DHB's. That scale of $$$billions of monopoly power is similar in scale to the supermarkets, with even less competition and full state-backed powers.

    This Labour government has rarely had to operate outside of crisis, but that will pass and Labour will need to firmly instruct MoH how to procure without fucking off the whole of the business community.

    • Tricledrown 3.1

      Ad your overlooking the cost to businesses if essential services and supplies are not able to operate .

      Hospitals short staffed already,supermarket shelves .even essential medicines could have supply problems.

      If a coordinated approach is not followed.More damage could occur to the economy if some businesses take the lion share.

      Omricon is not a business its a deadly and with long covid debilitating.

      Business has had to take a back seat in this once in a lifetime emergency .

      back seat drivers only distract the driver from keeping the passengers safe.

      • Ad 3.1.1

        It's not Omicron paying my mortgage.

        Business has been well supported, but it's the job of Government to get out of the way as soon as it can. Labour aren't very good at messaging that.

      • Gypsy 3.1.2

        You're overlooking the fact that business actually got off it's arse and planned, when the government didn't. You're also overlooking the fact that at least some of those 'businesses' are employing essential workers.

        • Tricledrown

          What a load the govt worked with businesses to get a roll out of rats .

          Businesses wanted to jump the gun with the type of saliva testing that used the same testing facilities that the Moh and dhbs were using overloading .

          The RATS are newer not as accurate for omricom or omricom b.2.

          The govt needs to control the way RATS are used to keep essential supply chains and the health system functioning.

          Complaining doesn't win the battle .

          • Gypsy

            "the govt worked with businesses to get a roll out of rats ."
            No, business did it's own planning and placed orders. In some some cases they have already paid for the RAT's.

            "The govt needs to control the way RATS are used to keep essential supply chains and the health system functioning."
            No they really don't. As with the vaccine roll out, the government has been far too slow to get it’s act together. Now they are having to use the private sector to get them out of the shit.

  4. The right type of masks as well.

    I notice you included a picture of Luxon there. But the PM has been using the cloth ones in her interviews for ages. Maybe she had a surgical lining inside them. Who knows.

    But I think it behoves our politicians to lead by example and actually use effective masks and use them properly in the current environment.

    • Tricledrown 4.1

      Their are different types of cloth masks some are just cloth others have microfilters built in they cost a lot more.around $50 dollars each.

      I doubt if jacinda or Luxon are wearing the backyard variety.

    • lprent 4.2

      I hate having to explain this to you devil

      However I suspect that the reason it was included wasn't to do with the type of mask. It was to do with the way that Luxon was mis-using it.

      Hanging a nose outside a mask is as offensive and as useless as wandering around with someone wandering around with their dick hanging out of their pants.

      You breathe out almost as many droplets from the nose as you do from breathing out of the mouth. The only real difference is that the droplets tend to be smaller – they carry a lower viral load. But on average, the smaller droplet from the nose can travel longer distances. They wind up as being just as infectious.

      You'll notice that the post was pointing out ..

      The other aspect of current importance is the correct wearing of masks. As I walk around the streets of West Auckland I am pleased to note that pretty well everyone is wearing a mask. But so many people are not doing it correctly.

      Probably you need to read the whole post?

    • Mike Roberts 4.3

      Indeed. They should also not take them off to talk, when indoors, including in parliament and at news conferences. This sends the message that masks are not necessary or that talking doesn't increase the amount of aerosols expelled. This is nonsense. I'd also like to see more people follow the example of Andrew Coster, the police comissioner who shaved his beard off when he took up the role, specifically to get a better fit with a mask. I shaved mine off before that, and no-one followed my example either! All masks, designed as masks, do have some efficacy but only if worn properly. So-called disposable masks can be washed in warm water a few times and can be worn several times if stored for a week between uses in a paper bag. These things will reduce the cost of wearing masks, so there is less excuse for not wearing them. They don't, however, need to be worn outside unless in a crowd.

  5. Robert Guyton 5

    Luxon should know better than to be waltzing about with his snout out.

    Perhaps though, he's been issued a partial-mask exemption?

  6. Robert Guyton 6

    Covid-19: Retailer criticised after P2 mask price increases by 170 per cent

    "An online retailer has been criticised for increasing the price of some face masks by 170 per cent this month.

    National Express Products (NXP) sells a range of face masks, including the N95 and P2 varieties recommended for use against the Omicron variant.

    An invoice supplied to Stuff by an NXP customer shows the business supplies distributor was selling boxes of 50 P2 face masks for $39.99 plus GST as recently as January 7.

    On Wednesday, the same product was advertised for $75 plus GST, an increase of 87 per cent."


    • joe90 6.1

      I'd seen the Whanganui made masks being used on the job by welders so late last year when I was looking at buying masks I tracked them down at two different suppliers. $76.99 and $89 for fifty. Too dear, so I looked elsewhere and NXP were advertising them as being on special at $39.99. At that price I bought a couple of boxes for family and friends. Turns out they're a little small for those of us with a big melon but a perfect fit for women and youngsters.

  7. Matiri 7

    Auckland GP shows how to fit your mask properly, including surgical mask worn with fabric one over the top.


  8. It is truly amazing the number of people who apparently do not breathe through their noses and on a lot of occasions, do not breathe at all.

  9. weka 9

    Aotearoa’s recent experience, where we have pretty well beaten back a Delta incursion on the back of one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, is testimony to this.

    As an aside, I remember people on TS in the spring, adamant that we wouldn't get to 90%+ vax rate. Maybe we should have a little more faith in ourselves.

  10. mary_a 10

    While criticising government's response to Covid-19, the leader of the opposition wanders around in public with his nose above his mask! The hypocrisy of the man!

  11. lprent 11

    I always find it interesting that people, businesses, journalists and apparently even other government departments simply don't understand the scope of the MoH powers under the Epidemic Preparedness Act 2006, and the previous Acts that covered epidemics back to the 1920s.

    If required, the Director General of Health running under a epidemic notice may simply state with a notice all supply and practice on medicines that are required to quell a epidemic depending on how extensive the epidemic notice is.
    See Health Act 1956 74C

    (2) While an epidemic notice is in force,—

    (a) the Director-General may, if satisfied that there is or is likely to be a shortage of medicines because of the outbreak of the disease stated in the epidemic notice, in accordance with a policy devised under subsection (1) for the medicines, by notice require persons administering, dispensing, prescribing, or supplying stated medicines that are under the control of the Crown or a Crown entity to administer, dispense, prescribe, or supply them in accordance with priorities, and subject to any conditions, stated in the notice; and

    (b) every person administering, dispensing, prescribing, or supplying medicines stated in the notice that are under the control of the Crown or a Crown entity must—

    (i) comply with the priorities; and

    (ii) comply with any conditions, stated in the notice.

    and for the usual wording nitpickers – medicines have a broad meaning under this section of the act.

    (6) In this section, medicine means any substance used or capable of being used to prevent, treat, or palliate a disease, or the symptoms or effects of a disease.

    In other words, it includes masks, tests, and even materials used for testing like reagents.

    The reason for this breadth of powers is pretty obvious. If there is a epidemic or even a pandemic running, it really isn't the role of parliament to do more than to give a notice outlining the bounds of the notice (and that is what the Epidemic Preparedness Act 2006 is all about).

    The exponential growth in cases that is characteristic of any epidemic doesn't leave a lot of time for group decision making, and eventually the decision has to be made quickly without too much dithering.

    So far in this epidemic, NZ has been particularly successful because those decisions have been made in a timely and coherent manner. You only have to look in little detail offshore to see just how bad and incoherent decisions in a epidemic can cause economic and medical disaster zones. Australia being my current favourite example.

    • Incognito 11.1

      You’re dead right, which makes it even more interesting that Government and/or DGoH have not (yet?) waved the Act(s) around as the definitive argument and justification for their latest ‘confiscation’ of RATs, at least AFAIK.

      BTW, nobody seemed to have a problem with the free testing (at testing stations), free contact tracing, free PCR tests (in labs), free frequent and regular reporting and updating (i.e. by MOH and Government), and free vaccine shots, et cetera, all courtesy of Government (i.e. the Taxpayers) and all centralised and coordinated by central government in close (but not necessarily always close enough or perfect) collaboration with local-regional entities – isn’t this an example of how a society could function well?

    • Matiri 11.2

      MPI have the same powers in the event of an animal disease epidemic.

      • lprent 11.2.1

        For the same reason. Infections don't tend to be handled well with long reviews and wide consultation.

        You'll also find the same for things like chemical or radioactive spills, geological events like volcanoes, earthquakes, floods, etc under civil defence provisions.

  12. Gypsy 12

    "And mask wearing is one of the most important things we can do right now. The response of Taiwan and Japan to Covid is directly related to a culture of mask wearing."
    I travel (pre covid) a lot in asia, specifically China and Hong Kong, and since SARS mask wearing has become a normal and accepted part of their way of life. I remember many years ago seeing a small group of young people get on the HK MTR wearing masks and wondering why. When they all simultaneously began coughing and spluttering I was suddenly less questioning and more appreciative.

    • joe90 12.1

      Woman in Pak'n'Slave the other day started coughing and spluttering and it was like the parting of the Red Sea. And when the barking and hoiking got so bad that she had to take her mask off, Pamplona!

      • Robert Guyton 12.1.1



      • Gypsy 12.1.2


        • joe90

          It was, but the staff were very good. Couple turned up in blue plastic gear, helped her clean herself up, gave her a fresh mask and got to work with bucket and mop, wipes and bottles of squirt.

      • mary_a 12.1.3

        @ jo90 (12.1) Pretty grosssurprise!

        Our teenage grandson through his holiday job in a petrol station faced a similar situation, where a customer intentionally took their mask off so they were able to hoik, cough and splutter, only to put their mask back on when they had finished clearing their chest!!

        • joe90

          An older woman and it was one of those dog-awful paroxysmal, forty years on durries hacks, so it's not like she had much choice in the matter. She was really upset and absolutely mortified but apart from the initial scatter, the other shoppers were great, too. So I'm actually feeling a little proud of how folk reacted.

  13. Corey Humm 13

    I mostly agree I will say there are some weird rules that seem like brain farts in regards to masks but masks are fine , a bit pricey long term for poor people and families but hey.

    Though not all people not wearing masks are a-holes Some people with autism and sensory issues and texture issues can't wear masks and get yelled at by nosy parkers which really traumatizes them..

    I do get sick of the kinds of people who will scream at you for not wearing a mask while you're on a run in an empty park or walking down the street. When you're outside away from everyone you don't have to wear a mask.

    When inside unless you're exempt , for now atleast we're a mask. They do usually give them out for free at store entrances too

  14. Treetop 14

    School going back next week is on my mind. Asking children as young as 8 usually in year 4 to wear a mask is required to help keep them Covid free. Children age 5 – 11 would have recently recieved their first paediatric Pfizer vaccination. Probably takes 2 weeks to be effective. My due date for my booster jab is not until mid February.

    Covid coming into the home and into schools is unwelcome and hard to avoid. Those with limited resources no transport, no masks, food insecurity, no data will probably struggle. School costs, uniforms, stationary and internet devices can be a burden at this time of year as well.

  15. Ever since we have had mask wearing I have treated non-mask wearers as unvaccinated and therefore possible carriers and keep well away. Mask wearing is second nature to me now and getting out of the car without a mask on seems odd.

    I see that my wonderful friend who made my cloth masks has left the middle seam unsewn and so I can put an extra filter in. I will probably just wear the cloth one over the surgical one.

    • Mike Roberts 15.1

      Well, the vaccinated are possible carriers also. Unfortunately, with omicron, it looks like the vaccinated are just as likely to be carriers as the unvaccinated (going by data of the last few days). So just treat non-mask-wearers as possible carriers (hopefully, unknowingly) but not such a risk outdoors or in very well ventilated areas.

      • Shanreagh 15.1.1

        Of course. The point I am making though is that some/many? of the non vaccinated also have some objection to wearing a mask also. Mask wearing can help protect others if you are infectious. By being anti vaxx plus not wearing a mask is a giant 'up yours' to the rest of us vaxxed or not.

        So my shorthand response is to treat non mask wearers as 'live'

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