Homemade mask maker calls for nationwide programme

THE donor and maker of masks for volunteers signed up to the Limerick COVID-19 Community Response believes that a ‘homemade’ masks programme here has the potential to help replicate the hugely successful COVID-19 response in her native Thailand.

Mayuree Walshe, who has been living in Limerick for 23years, decided to handmake masks and give 45 to the Community Response Team after returning from a holiday in February to her native Thailand where she believes the low level of outbreak there is down to everyone wearing masks.

With a population of almost 70 million and having detected its first outbreak in January, Thailand today has 3,000 Coronavirus cases and 52 deaths compared to Ireland’s almost 20,000 cases and 1,000 deaths.  This is almost two months after the Thai health authorities encouraged people to make face masks at home.

The Limerick COVID-19 Community Response is a coordinated programme run under the national Community Call programme that sees members of the public who are isolating or vulnerable call a dedicated helpline – 1800 832 005 – for help with daily needs such as shopping, prescriptions, supplies and information.

Ms Walshe today handed over 45 personally made masks for the volunteers to protect them and the people they meet when handing over items on the doorstep.

And she believes that if a nationwide homemade mask programme is run, as in Thailand, it can stop the spread of the disease in its tracks just like she believes it has in her birth country.

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Her effort has been praised by Mayor of the City and County of Limerick Councillor Michael Sheahan.  “We are getting so many gestures of support and thank-you from members of the public for the Limerick COVID-19 Community Response programme and this is an outstanding example. When someone takes time to make masks to protect people volunteering and those they are helping, it is not alone a health and safety contribution but, very importantly, it is a ‘thank-you’ that means a lot to us.  People are giving of their time freely to do this volunteer work and for Mayuree to go to these lengths really says what they are doing appreciated. We thank her deeply for this.”

Mayuree said that the decision to make masks was instinctive after returning from Thailand. “I couldn’t believe how many people were wearing facemasks at home in February. There had been a shortage of manufactured masks and they are too expensive so people started making them at home.

“So when I came back from holidays, I decided to make masks for some people here and then saw the Limerick volunteer group that was set up to help people who are isolated and I decided to make some for them. I used some leftover breathable cotton and polyester material that I had at home and an elastic band to tie them.

“I’ve always made things; curtains, costumes for the children, etc.  So, I just looked up Youtube and there was a basic video there that I learned everything I need,” she said.

She believes that wider prevalence of masks is inevitable here.  “More and more people are saying that it should happen, including experts. We have over 69 million people and 52 deaths. That says a lot and it’s because, I believe, of the number of people wearing masks.  We used to see masks a lot in Thailand because of smoke and dust but everyone seems to have them now.  People are making them at home.

“I think the same should happen here. There are so many people out there who could make the masks.”

But she has some advice, too: “You wouldn’t wear them all day; just when you go shopping or go out in public. Wash them then at night or when you get home and leave them out to dry. Don’t put them in a dryer or the elastic bands will melt!”