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Going viral: Day 55 of COVID-19 lockdown in Ireland


200420 fake news
COVID-19: One such category of misinformation is the use of incomplete or misleading figures to present an inaccurate picture.
Image Credit: Image Credit: Ramachandra Babu/©Gulf News

Like millions of others around the world, Gulf News Foreign Correspondent Mick O’Reilly is currently under Covid-19 lockdown. This is what life is like in social isolation in Ireland, where there are strict rules about who is allowed out, where, and under limited circumstances.

DAY 55

IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE?

MISINFORMATION, HALF-TRUTHS AND DOWNRIGHT FALSEHOODS SPREAD ON SOCIAL MEDIA ABOUT COVID-19 DEATH RATES AROUND THE WORLD

Why is it that there are clowns out there who refuse to accept that this pandemic is very deadly, poses a risk to everyone’s health and can come back for a second wave if we’re not all careful?

]Yet there are idiots – yes, idiots – out there who continue to spew misinformation, half-truths and downright falsehoods about COVID-19 on social media.

One such category of misinformation is the use of incomplete or misleading figures to present an inaccurate picture.

A Facebook post going around falls into this category. The post has been shared about 150 times over the past couple of days and appears to be a screenshot of a tweet that was sent about a week ago.

The tweet purports to show the “survival rates of COVID-19″ across seven badly affected countries, claiming the figure is above 99.9 per cent in each case.

The original tweet was sent early on 13 May but a screenshot of it was sent about 12 hours later by US actor Kevin Sorbo, who has over 220,000 followers. And it went viral from there.

The screenshot has been used many times since by people seeking to downplay the threat from the Covid-19 pandemic.

MOST PEOPLE WHO ARE INFECTED WITH COVID-19 SUFFER FEW SYMPTOMS

Mick O Reilly
Mick blog
Image Credit: Supplied

The figures are inaccurate for a number of reasons.

Firstly, describing anything as a ‘survival rate’ is problematic because there is no accurate way to measure such a rate right now. Most people who are infected with COVID-19 suffer either mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, so many will not know for sure they were infected.

Antibody tests may ultimately give a better indication of how many people within a population contracted the virus but even then there is unlikely to be a definitive figure on how many people have had it.

Without knowing that, it is not possible to say for sure how many people died as a percentage of those who were infected. The ‘survival rates’ as listed above are therefore also impossible to gauge.

The figure you’re more likely to hear is the case fatality rate. This is the percentage of people who have died and who were also a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Globally, according to Johns Hopkins University, the death rate is at 6.56 per cent after 5 million confirmed cases.

COMPARING FATALITY RATES AROUND THE WORLD

Our World in Data has used this same calculation to compare fatality rates in different around the world, even though its researchers from the University of Oxford and the Global Change Data Lab admit that has its limitations.

To take other countries by way of comparison with Ireland, the US also has a case fatality rate of 6 per cent, Sweden is at about 12 per cent, the UK is above 14 per cent and France is approaching 20 per cent.

Again though, these figures are hugely dependent on the amount of testing in a country. If a county has tested fewer people, it will have fewer confirmed cases and thus the case fatality rate is likely to be higher.

Does that mean that it is impossible to estimate a ‘survival rate’?

One of the things we must remember about COVID-19 is that it’s a new disease that health experts have been monitoring for less than five months. So, we are still learning about the virus and the impact it is having on the human population.

While in the fullness of time we might be in a better position to judge a ‘survival rate’ for the virus, we’re not there yet.

FAUCI ESTIMATED DEATH RATE IN MARCH AT 1 PER CENT

Speaking to the US Congress in March, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said he estimated the overall death at somewhere around 1 per cent. This is inclusive of all those who have had the virus, including those who have not been tested.

This would make COVID-19 ten times more lethal than the seasonal flu, which has a fatality rate of about 0.1 per cent. By way of another comparison, the 2009 swine flu pandemic was estimated to be fatal in around 0.02 per cent of cases.

A study by the Imperial College London, based on 70,000 cases in China, has put the death rate for confirmed cases of COVID-19 there at 1.38 per cent. In the same article, researchers estimated the overall death rate, including unconfirmed cases, at 0.66 per cent.

Again though, that is just an estimation because we don’t have sufficient knowledge of spread of the virus yet to be sure.

Regardless, these estimations do not match the ‘survival rates’ listed in the original claim, which are all above 99.9 per cent. The country-by-country figures are also clearly not accurate because individual countries have not made such estimations themselves.

Simply put – don’t believe such ridiculous claims by morons.

FACEBOOK’S ZUCKERBERG DEFENDS ACTIONS ON VIRUS MISINFORMATION

Having just written above on how false information keeps being posed on Facebook and other social media, I was interested to read a piece on the BBC where Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg told the British broadcaster that it had and would remove any content likely to result in “immediate and imminent harm” to users.

“Even if something isn’t going to lead to imminent physical harm, we don’t want misinformation to be the content that is going viral,” he said.

It removed Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro’s claim that scientists had “proved” there was a coronavirus cure.

This was removed because it was “obviously” not true, he said.

He also said that Facebook had removed content from groups claiming that the rollout of the 5G digital network was a cause of the spread of the virus and in some cases encouraged those who believed that to damage the networks physical infrastructure. Facebook recently removed content from former broadcaster and conspiracy theorist David Icke for “repeatedly violating our policies on harmful misinformation”.

ZUCKERBERG SAYS FACEBOOK WORKS WITH FACT CHECKERS

Icke had suggested that 5G mobile phone networks are linked to the spread of the virus and in another video he suggested a Jewish group was behind the virus.

“We work with independent fact checkers,” Zuckerberg said. “Since the Covid outbreak, they have issued 7,500 notices of misinformation which has led to us issuing 50 million warning labels on posts. We know these are effective because 95 per cent of the time, users don’t click through to the content with a warning label.”

However, Facebook has insisted that unless there was the prospect of real imminent harm, then the company would and should allow what he called the “widest possible aperture” for freedom of expression on the internet.

He also told the BBC that preventing electoral interference is an “arms race” against countries such as Russia, Iran and China. He admitted that the firm was “behind” in the 2016 US presidential election.

MAINTAINING CONTROL OF FACEBOOK

Zuckerberg also defended his level of personal control over arguably the world’s most powerful media platforms. Although Facebook is a public company worth nearly $700 billion (Dh2.6 trillion), he ultimately exerts total individual control thanks to an ownership structure that gives him a controlling interest even though he owns a small fraction of the shares.

He said it had allowed Facebook to make longer-term strategic decisions which have proved to be correct such as waiting to improve the Facebook experience before launching it on smartphones and not selling out early to rivals.

“If it had been different then we would have sold out to Yahoo years ago and who knows what would have happened then.” Yahoo is now worth about 5 per cent of Facebook’s value.

Facebook continues to face criticism over its reluctance to describe or define itself as a publisher and thus embrace the kind of editorial responsibility that newspapers and traditional broadcasters are legally bound by.

CHANGING THE WAY WE FLY IN EUROPE

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has just published its detailed guidelines on how flying will resume across the European Union. And coronavirus now means no more duty free or in-flight service, facemasks, temperature checks, possible health interviews and social distancing at all times. Here’s a quick look at how things will change.

Arrival and check-in: Anyone who develops symptoms after booking or has been in contact with someone suffering from Covid-19, should not turn up to the flight. Passengers should not expect a lingering goodbye with loved ones at the terminal. With few exceptions, nobody who is not travelling or working there will be allowed inside.

Washing hands: Those travelling are expected to take precautions such as washing hands and wearing masks, with exceptions for children under six and people with a medical reason not to. Regular reminders will be broadcast through the public address system, alongside the usual security messages and flight information. EASA also recommends “respiratory etiquette”, such as covering the face when sneezing. Those who do not comply could be ejected from the airport and suffer further penalties from local authorities.

Interviews and physical distancing: Physical distancing is defined as 1.5 metres apart. As in many shops and offices, there will be floor markings to show people where to stand in queues. EASA said airport operators should set up interview booths for people found to have a temperature of more than 38 degrees Celsius to assess possible illness.

Face masks and Perspex barriers: Airport staff will need to wear face masks and hand them out to passengers not sporting their own. Protective perspex barriers are also likely to become a feature of check-in desks and security areas, under the guidelines. Heathrow has said it is installing 600 hand sanitiser stations, putting up signage featuring government health advice and even looking at using UV light to sanitise surfaces.

Security: As with the terminal, physical distancing will not always be possible in the security area. All staff will be wearing masks but security employees performing body checks may also be wearing face shields. Security screening trays will be much more frequently disinfected. Heathrow is also testing contact free security screening equipment.

Boarding and disembarking: Hand luggage restrictions could be even stricter. EASA recommends cutting down on cabin bags to speed up boarding and reduce contamination risk. It recommends airlines incentivise customers to do this, so there may be discounts on hold luggage charges. Passengers should be spaced apart if possible while boarding and disembarking and where buses are used, more should be provided.

Disinfectants and mats: There may be an automated disinfectant dispenser at the aircraft door and a mat soaked with disinfectant to walk on.

On board: The aircraft should be thoroughly disinfected between flights, so trays are likely to be less grubby at least. EASA has asked airlines to install better air filters to clean the air in the cabin but everyone, passengers and crew, will be expected to wear masks. EASA recommends discarding them after four hours, meaning several may be needed for long-haul flights.

The middle seat: Airlines have toyed with the idea of blocking off the middle seat to keep passengers further apart but whether this is mandatory will depend on where you are flying. Europe and the US do not require it, but Malaysia and Indonesia do.

Toilets on board: Using the toilet will be more difficult, with airlines advised to reserve one for cabin crew and prevent passengers queuing in the aisles where possible.

Food and duty free service: EASA has recommended “reduced” food and drink services and no duty free sales onboard.

Arrival and baggage claim: Thermal screening may be applied at the arrival airport and airlines should provide public health authorities with a passenger locator card if requested for contact tracing purposes. This will give a passenger’s name, allocated seat and phone number or email. Border control agents will be trained to spot signs of illness. After collecting baggage, passengers will be told to leave the airport as soon as possible.

Meet and greet: This will not be allowed for the most part. Where meet and greet cannot be avoided, a special area will be set up away from other arrivals.

WHY FACE MASKS MIGHT BE DANGEROUS FOR SOME

In Canada, there’s quite a row brewing over face masks and whether they are dangerous to the health of some and problematic for some others.

In recommending people wear masks in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Canada’s national chief public health officer Theresa Tam has also warned against judging those who can’t wear them.

“Be very aware of those with different types of cognitive, intellectual disabilities, those who are hearing impaired and others,” Tam said. “Don’t assume that someone who isn’t wearing a mask or is wearing something different doesn’t have an actual reason for it.”

Asthma Canada president and CEO Vanessa Foran said simply wearing a mask could create risk of an asthma attack. She said if a mask inhibits the ability of someone to breathe in any way, it’s recommended to not wear one.

Foran suggests asthmatics wear a mask in their homes for 20 minutes to test their comfort level before venturing out, and also to head out in cooler weather.

“Wearing masks means breathing hot and humid air, so that can trigger asthma symptoms,” she said. “We say if they cannot wear a mask, they must ensure they’re maintaining physical distancing and practising good hand hygiene.” She added that people with severe allergies might also find wearing a mask difficult at this time of year.

MASKS POSE PROBLEMS FOR THOSE WITH AUTISM

Dominique Payment, family support representative for Autism Canada, said people on the spectrum have trouble with sensory processing. They also have tactile, olfactory and nervous-system hypersensitivity that wearing a mask could aggravate.

“It could cause some serious challenges,” she said. “Because their senses are so heightened, it affects everything.”

Payment has two children on the autism spectrum. One is anxious about masks because he associates them with having his teeth cleaned at the dentist, which he dislikes.

“Unfortunately, this whole COVID-19 situation and everyone wearing masks can cause some anxiety for these children because they are associating with not-so-positive experiences.”

Payment said having children put a mask on a favourite stuffed animal, or choosing a fabric colour and pattern for a mask, could help prepare them to wear one.

CAN’T READ LIPS THROUGH A MASK

The deaf and hard of hearing can’t read lips covered by an opaque mask, which also muffles sound for those with partial hearing.

“Typically hard-of-hearing individuals rely more on lip-reading. Masks are still a challenge for deaf people,” said Wissam Constantin, vice-president of governance and membership for the Canadian Association of the Deaf. “The sign for tired, you can sign for tired, but depending on your mouth movement, it will emphasise how exhausted you are. It’s not only about lip-reading. It’s about facial expression.”

Constantin said he laboured to communicate with masked employees at a grocery store this week.

“I just wanted them to lift up the mask to tell me what they were trying to tell me,” he said. “The workers did struggle. Of course, they have their own concerns. It is a really difficult situation,” he said.

“We really rely on facial expression as a form of communication, so the masks are a barrier in making those connections in the community.”

Alaska-based company Rapid Response PPE has developed face masks with clear shields so the deaf and hard of hearing can see facial cues and lip movement. “That could be useful,” Constantin said. “If the ministry of public health thinks they’re safe, that would really help if we were able to see mouth movement.”

HAS THE NEW CORONAVIRUS MUTATED TO BE MORE CONTAGIOUS?

Scientists are cautioning that it’s still too early to know how COVID-19 mutates, after a preliminary study in the United States claimed that a new strain of the virus has emerged that is more dominant and contagious than the original.

The preprint study by scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico was published Tuesday on BioRxiv, a website for academics to share their research before it’s peer-reviewed.

In the paper, the scientists said they discovered a new strain of the coronavirus, which first appeared in Europe in February. Since then, the new strain migrated to the US East Coast and other regions and has become the dominant form of the virus in the world, according to the researchers.

The study’s authors said this one particular mutation, named D614G, appears to be more contagious than its predecessors because it has quickly infected more people than earlier strains of the virus that first emerged in Wuhan, China.

The scientists came to this conclusion by analysing more than 6,000 coronavirus sequences from around the world, which were collected by the German-based organization the Global Initiative for Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID).

SCIENTISTS IDENTIFY 14 DIFFERENT MUTATIONS

They tracked the virus across different regions since its emergence and said they identified 14 mutations related to the now-infamous spike protein that is visible on the surface of the virus. They focused their attention on the spike protein because this is what allows the virus to enter human respiratory cells, CTV News reports.

Of the mutations they discovered, the researchers said D614G appeared to be of the most concern because it became dominant wherever it was spread, although they said it’s still unclear why that is.

What’s more, the study didn’t show that the mutated strain of the virus actually made people sicker. The team studied data from 453 hospitalised patients in Sheffield, England and found that, while people with the particular mutation had higher viral loads in their samples, they weren’t sicker or in the hospital for longer periods.

“There was, however, no significant correlation found between D614G status and hospitalisation status,” the study said.

MUTATED STRAIN IS MORE LETHAL THAN PREDECSSORS

While the academics didn’t suggest the mutated strain was more lethal than its predecessors, they did warn of a possible risk that coronavirus patients will be “susceptible to a second infection” if they believe they have immunity to the virus after being infected with only one strain of it.

The scientists said the newly discovered strain was of “urgent concern” as it could have important implications for vaccine development already underway if those scientists are not aware of its mutated form.

While the suggestion of a more virulent mutated strain of coronavirus might stoke fears, experts in the field say more evidence is needed to prove its existence.

Rob Kozak, a clinical microbiologist at Sunnybrook Hospital who helped isolate COVID-19 – also known scientifically as SARS-CoV-2, in March, explained the fact that the virus is mutating is not a cause for alarm because all viruses mutate as part of their life cycles. He said that when a virus makes contact with a host, it will make new copies of itself so it can go on to infect other cells.

“As the virus replicates, it makes mistakes in copying itself and some of these mistakes will accumulate over time,” he told CTVNews.

“It will replace one nucleic acid with another just by accident, so that the genome of the virus at the beginning of a flu season, for example, is going to be a little bit different from the one at the end.”

IN SOME CASES, MUTATIONS MAY ACTUALLY WEAKEN A VIRUS

For the most part, mutations tend to be neutral and will have only a slight effect on how the virus functions. In some cases, mutations may actually weaken a virus and cause it to peter out.

On rare occasions, a mutation can benefit the virus and help it to proliferate, as the study suggests is happening with COVID-19.

Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases physician and scientist with the Toronto General Hospital, said the study didn’t prove that the mutated strain is more virulent just because it was more common in their sample size.

“It’s not to say it can’t happen. It’s not to say it won’t happen, but they don’t provide the level of proof to determine that this has happened,” he said.

“It’s not that a mutation didn’t occur. It’s not that there aren’t different variants of this virus around. But does this mutation confer some special advantage over other strains of this virus? And the answer is maybe, maybe not, but they don’t show that in this paper.”

RIGOUROUS SCIENTIFIC EXPERIMENTS USING ANIMALS AND CELL CULTURES

Kozak said the researchers can’t prove that the mutation is associated with better transmission or more virulence until they start doing rigourous scientific experiments using animals and cell cultures.

“Mutations on their own don’t really mean anything until we actually do proper animal models and proper scientific experiments to understand it,” he said.

Kozak also said the study’s sample size of genomes comprised of only about one per cent of all the viruses out there from coronavirus, which has infected more than 3.8 million people globally.

“We’re not really getting a very fulsome picture of everything that’s there,” he said.

The microbiologist said the study also didn’t take into account epidemiological factors, such as how those with the virus isolated themselves or if they travelled extensively while they were infected.

“If a country really locked down, put in social distancing, insisted that businesses be shut down, you’d probably see there might be less transmission of a particular virus based on that,” he explained.

IMPORTANT IMPLICATIONS FOR COVID-19 TRANSMISSION

As for the study’s potential impact on vaccine development, the team from Los Alamos National Laboratory explained that was why they published the results of their research before it had been peer-reviewed.

“These findings have important implications for SARS-CoV-2 transmission, pathogenesis and immune interventions,” the authors wrote.

While Kozak agreed that sharing data is a good idea because it stimulates discussion and new ideas within the scientific community, he said it’s important to remember some of the study’s limitations and that it hasn’t undergone that proper peer-review process.

“It’s always a balance because you want to put information out there because maybe it’ll be helpful to people,” he said. “But it’s a risk when people don’t say ‘We got to take this with a grain of salt. We need to not jump to conclusions. We need more information before we can really make a conclusion.

Mick O Reilly
Mick blog
Image Credit: Supplied

This was shared with me by my cousin, Gus Ingoldsby. I don’t how what it says if he thinks it applies to me…

HOW I’M PRETENDING TO GROW £10,000 IN PLAY MONEY

So, pretty much a roller-coaster week with Friday leaving my portfolio down by £91.40 on the day.

A reminder that this is all pretend, I started out in lockdown with £10,000 – about Dh45,000 to invest on the London Stock Exchange, I don’t pay for trade and I can only buy or sell when the market is closed. There’s no minimum on the amount of stocks I can buy, just as long as I can afford them.

Drax, a biomass green fuel producer was in the red while my three other selections, drinks distiller Diageo, grocery delivery outfit Ocado and PowerHouse, a green energy producer were all on the green side.

The London market is closed on Monday but I will be cashing in the 2,600 share I hold in Drax. That and the cash I have in hand will give me roughly £5,125 to play with. There does seem to be a bit of life in oil. I’ll have a serious think in the coming weekend before I commit on Monday evening before trading resumes on Tuesday.

This is how things stand:

Diageo, 100 shares: £2834.00

Ocado, 100 shares: £2083.00

Drax, 2,600 shares: £5110.40

PowerHouse 1,200 shares: £1,998.00

£ loss on last trading day: £91.40

% Gain overall: 21.4 per cent

£ Gain overall: £2,140.38

LIFESTYLE: WHAT POST-PANDEMIC FASHION MAY LOOK LIKE

Everything is being affected by this pandemic. Many of us – myself included – have no idea what the future will hold. It therefore comes as no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the fashion industry. With people working from home and adhering to physical distancing, they are changing the way they dress.

Toronto fashion designer Hayley Elsaesser says people are mostly reaching for what is comfortable and practical right now, while dressier clothes have been pushed to the back of people’s closets for when this is all over.

However, whenever that time comes, Elsaesser said people can expect to see a wide range of ensembles on the street.

“I think it may be jarring for some to go from wearing sweats, and being unconfined for months, to suddenly wearing super structured garments. Especially with body changes due to the pandemic, some people’s wardrobes may not work with their current physical self,” Elsaesser told CTV News. “I think we will see more of a transition for some, with more elevated, breezy and comfy clothes, or fashionable loungewear mixed with more structured garments.”

Elsaesser said fashion might continue to focus on comfortable staples even after the pandemic ends and predicts oversized garments will be a trend for a while. She added that shoppers of her clothing brand are starting to pivot towards dressier garments as summer nears.

“Up until recently people were absolutely going crazy shopping sweats and loungewear, and they still are. However, I have seen people starting to get into the more fashion and summer pieces, likely in anticipation of social distancing loosening and wanting to really soak up as much of the summer as they can,” Elsaesser said.

SWEAT PANTS ARE HERE TO STAY

Toronto lingerie and loungewear designer Mary Young predicts fashion will stay comfortable after the pandemic but will move to statement pieces featuring prints and colours with each season.

Young told CTV News that the negative stigma around wearing sweatpants in public has already changed amid the pandemic.

“We’ve seen a bit of a shift, I would say even in 2019 to not only athleisure as in leggings and the stuff you wear to the gym, but taking that early 90s fashion of oversized pants, comfy crews and loose, oversized shirts – coming back in a bit of a tailored way,” Young said.

She said the pandemic’s athleisure trend has moved beyond sweat suits people would typically only wear at home and has moved into garments that are comfy enough to lounge in but also look tailored enough to be worn outside of the house.

“You’re not just wearing your university hoodie that has some stains and maybe some bleach marks on it from 10 to 15 years ago when you graduated, but rather, people are investing in track suits that make them feel good at home but also look good to wear out,” Young said.

HOW OTHER HISTORIC MOMENTS CHANGED FASHION

Fashion historian and professor at Ryerson University Alison Matthews David said the COVID-19 pandemic will change the fashion landscape but it is “impossible to predict” how.

David said that while loungewear will most likely influence day wear after the pandemic, she said some people may capitalise on the occasion of being able to dress up again.

“I think it depends on your own philosophy. Some people really find that [clothing] is like an armour for them psychologically and physically they just love being dressed up. Whereas other people are much more comfort and will definitely want to keep wearing their athleisure to the office. It depends on how you feel about your wardrobe in general but hopefully it will be a little more flexible,” David said .

He added that the post-pandemic fashion landscape may include a renewed interest in clothing. This concept has been seen before following other major global events including the Great Depression, the Second World War and the 1918 Spanish influenza.

“During the Second World War, because clothing was rationed, and certainly a lot of things like wool or silk were needed for uniforms and for the war effort, people got very creative essentially with what they wore,” David said. “A lot of women still did home sewing and so there were lots of patterns and advice on how to turn one thing into another.”

SACKS TURNED INTO DRESSES

David said women used feed sacks and flour bags, old parachutes and worn-out military coats to make dresses and other clothing because of the lack of materials. After the war ended along with years of uniforms, sartorial restrictions and shortages, Christian Dior’s very first collection called the “New Look” emerged and revived an interest in elegant shapes and femininity.

“Dior’s ‘New Look’ was kind of a way for people to react against all of the austerity during war time, but of course not everyone could afford that fabric, and that was actually a silhouette that was coming into style before the war. It just got kind of interrupted,” David said.

Following the Great Depression, David said women recycled and re-wore the previous year’s garments because they had limited income and those who did flaunt their wealth were frowned upon.

She added that this phenomenon also happened following the 2008 recession with wardrobes becoming generally more casual and women doing away with fur and ornate detailing until recent years.

This may also be seen post COVID-19, which David said will actually be “great for sustainability” in the fashion industry.

“In the past people, and women in particular, were told ‘This is the silhouette you’re going to wear, this is in fashion and you need to conform to it,’ whereas now in the world we live in… we recycle trends and we’re much more flexible with what we can wear. It won’t matter I don’t think as much to be on trend after this,” David said.

MASKS TO MOVE BEYOND PROTECTIVE GEAR

When fashion changes following major events, there is usually a defining garment or two that visually symbolize the fashion of the time. For example, at the end of the Victorian era, doctors started discouraging women from wearing long skirts and corsets for fear these garments could hold germs associated with tuberculosis.

Elsaesser said COVID-19’s defining garment is the face mask. Similar to the 1918 Spanish influenza, surgical masks became staple items worn at all times both indoors and outdoors due to their essential protection. But Elsaesser predicts masks will be here to stay after the pandemic.

“I think masks will continue to be worn for some time, even after it is essential. I’m already seeing people using masks as a way to continue to express their personal style, so I think it will become more of a fashion piece eventually, such as matching masks to your outfit, or masks matching accessories,” Elsaesser said.

She said masks were not widely worn before the pandemic began and were rarely spotted in North American. Now, they are quickly becoming a part of everyday life.

“I never thought that I’d have a brand new best seller that was mask, but that’s now my reality as a designer,” Elsaesser said.

SHOPPING FOR SPECIFIC GARMENTS

Young said shopping local will also become a greater focus in fashion post pandemic.

“Since the pandemic has hit, a lot of consumers have changed where they shop and have had to pay more attention to not only the companies that they’re buying from but where those companies produce so there has been a huge focus on whether it’s Canadian-made clothing,” Young said.

Young added that consumers are also looking for clothing that can be worn multiple times and used for various outfits not just out of comfort but also out of financial means.

“[Consumers] are buying with a focus on the use of the product so that even goes into clothing of how to use all of this, how many wears like a bit how does it make me feel,” Young said.

Elsasser said that the economic uncertainty may also bring about more DIY clothing projects. David said she is already seeing a people on social media take up tie dying their loungewear.

“We’re seeing a lot of people sharing how they’re altering and creating their own clothes and masks at home, and this has really been a dying art for some time. I think people will want to continue to have agency and fun with their wardrobe and proudly sport DIY more often,” Elsasser said.

While there will still be moments of dressing up, Young said people will be more thoughtful with what they choose to wear after the pandemic.

“After this, a lot of consumers will be looking for really special clothes that are those dress up pieces, and they will be wearing them more. When we’re able to attend weddings, there won’t be this fear of, ‘I already wore this dress to another wedding so I can’t wear it to this one’,” Young said. “We will be giving our clothes more life, more value and more appreciation by wearing them in thoughtful moments and thoughtful events versus just feeling the need to buy something new to go out and look good.”

COVIDIOTS, YOBS AND GOONS

Here’s my daily collection that serves as a reminder that if you shake hands with a covidiot, count your fingers before you wash them…

LIGHT-FINGERED COVIDIOTS STEAL PPE FROM HOSPITAL

This just came up on my finely tuned covidiot radar: Two people from London were recently charged after vital PPE was stolen from Epsom Hospital.

Food donations were also taken in the thefts, which took place between January and April this year.

The hospital told police about the incidents, and an investigation was launched.

A man, aged 64, and woman, aged 60 have both been charged.

Some of the items taken were gloves and masks, vital for NHS workers on the frontline treating patients with COVID-19.

The court proceedings against the couple is ongoing. Personally, I hope the magistrates throw the book – and everything else – at this pair of numbskulls.

SON KILLS FATHER ON ZOOM MEETING

A 72-year-old man has been stabbed to death by his son in New York state during a Zoom video chat with 20 other participants, police say.

Dwight Powers was attacked by his 32-year-old son, Thomas Scully-Powers, who then jumped out of a window and fled in Long Island’s Amityville village. He was held within an hour after chat guests had called the police. The motive of the attack was not yet clear.

Scully-Powers was later charged with second-degree murder.

In a statement, Suffolk County police said further information would be provided once the suspect, who sustained minor injuries, was treated and discharged from hospital.

Police said it had been alerted of the incident on Thursday afternoon after several of the chat’s participants noticed the man fall, but that it took some time for them to locate the house because the guests did not know where Powers lived.

COVIDIOT BRITS VICIOUSLY TURN ON OFFICER

A police officer has been taken to hospital after being attacked by a group of young adults he was investigating for a possible breach of coronavirus guidelines in England

The policeman, who was working alone, was called to West Byfleet Park outside southwest London at 7.40pm on Thursday after a report that the group may have been flouting social distancing guidelines, Surrey Police said.

The attack happened as the officer was speaking to the men, and was taken to hospital with minor injuries to the wrist and head, the force said.

Three people, including one adult and two youths, were arrested a short time later and have been taken into custody.

Video footage of the incident appears to be circulating on social media, with the police urging the public to refrain from sharing it wider.

CALLING A COVIDIOT’S BLUFF

A covidiot in Colorado was put in his place by an employee of a Costco store for not wearing a mask. The covidiot says the company’s new policy is unfair.

The encounter happened on May 16 at a Costco in Thornton and was recorded on cellphone video by the customer, who is being identified only as Garrett, by Storyful.

In the 36-second video, the man uses his phone to film a Costco employee, whose name badge identified him as “Tison,” as he’s heard telling him, “I’ll just put you on my 3,000-follower Instagram feed.”

The employee looks directly into the camera and says, “Hi everyone. I work for Costco and I’m asking this member to put on a mask because that is our company policy.”

I’m not an expert, but I might be able to help you make a bit of sense of this. And we can all get through it together. Isn’t this what this is all about.

Send your questions for me to Readers@gulfnews.com.

That’s it for now. Let’s check in with each other tomorrow. I have used files from Reuters, AP, DW, Sky News, Twitter and other European and North American media outlets in today’s blog. And remember to stay safe.

Mick O’Reilly is the Gulf News Foreign Correspondent based in Europe



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