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Is YOUR mask safe? New research shows some stop just seven per cent of bacteria

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is your mask safe new research shows some stop just seven per cent of bacteria

A health alert has been issued over some reusable facemasks with evidence that some filter out just 7per cent of harmful bacteria.

The warning comes from consumer experts at Which? after a survey of 15 masks which suggest some offer little or no protection.

Three of the masks, available online and in the high street, were so flimsy that they have been issued with a ‘Don’t Buy’ rating.

These include the Etiquette mask, which is sold by Superdrug, the Termin8 Lightweight Breathable, available at Lloyds Pharmacy and elsewhere, and the Asda White Patterned.

Asda has pulled its face covering from sale as a result of the findings.

Three of the masks, available online and in the high street, were so flimsy that they have been issued with a ‘Don’t Buy’ rating

Three of the masks, available online and in the high street, were so flimsy that they have been issued with a ‘Don’t Buy’ rating

Three of the masks, available online and in the high street, were so flimsy that they have been issued with a ‘Don’t Buy’ rating

Asda has pulled this face covering from sale as a result of the findings.

Asda has pulled this face covering from sale as a result of the findings.

The Termin8 Lightweight Breathable

The Termin8 Lightweight Breathable

Asda has pulled its face covering (left) from sale as a result of the findings. Right, the Termin8 Lightweight Breathable mask did not fare well in the tests

Why you really aren’t washing your mask enough and CAN’T wear a disposable one more than once 

As many as 85 per cent of us aren’t washing our fabric face coverings properly in between uses, and 15 per cent have never washed theirs, suggests a YouGov survey from August.

And among those who opt for disposable masks, more than half aren’t binning them after use, but re-wearing them multiple times.

UK Government guidelines advise washing reusable masks ‘in line with manufacturers’ instructions at the highest temperature appropriate for the fabric’, while the World Health Organisation recommends washing them ‘at least once a day’. 

Enzymes in the detergents break down the protective envelope around the virus and so destroy it — they work in the same way as 70 per cent alcohol hand sanitisers.

Washing by hand at lower temperatures also means you are less likely to degrade the material and damage the mask — which could make it less effective as a barrier to virus droplets. 

To avoid contamination in between uses, you should store your fabric mask, or your spare disposable ones, in a clean, resealable plastic bag.

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Termin8 and Superdrug disputed the findings and said that their masks conform to government guidelines for fabric face coverings and that the guidance doesn’t require them to have bacterial filtration.  

Scientists tested the masks for how well they filter bacteria, how breathable they are, and how they fare after multiple washes.

Perhaps surprisingly, Which? found that many of the masks performed better after they were put through a hot wash as this meant the fibres became more compressed.

Which? said reusable fabric face coverings are not designed to block ultra-fine particles such as Covid-19 like a higher-grade medical respirator mask would.

However, they can help because they are intended to help block larger droplets and aerosols breathed out by the wearer, who may be infected but asymptomatic.

In theory, this should help protect the wider community by minimising exhalation of virus particles in enclosed spaces.

Masks with multiple layers were much more effective than single layer versions at filtering particles. 

However, the fact they had more layers meant it was more difficult to breathe easily through them.

Which? awarded two of the products tested ‘Best Buy’ status because they were comfortable and breathable without compromising on filtration. 

These are the NEQI reusable face mask (£15 for 3), which is available from retailers including Boots and Ocado, as well as Bags of Ethics Great British Designer face coverings (£15 for 3), available at Asos and John Lewis.

Head of Home Products and Services at Which?, Natalie Hitchins, said: ‘With face coverings now such an important part of daily life, they not only need to be durable and comfortable, but also provide effective filtration from harmful particles in order to keep us and others safe.

‘We would urge manufacturers to use our findings to up their game and improve their products.’

The Etiquette mask, which is sold by Superdrug

The Etiquette mask, which is sold by Superdrug

The NEQI reusable face mask was awarded 'Best Buy' status

The NEQI reusable face mask was awarded 'Best Buy' status

Three of the masks were issued with a ‘Don’t Buy’ rating. These include the Etiquette mask, which is sold by Superdrug (left). Right, The NEQI reusable face mask was awarded ‘Best Buy’ status

What is ‘bacterial filtration efficiency’?

This is the standard test used to measure the effectiveness of disposable surgical masks at blocking particles. Coronavirus particles can be much smaller than bacterial particles (as little as 0.1 micrometre in diameter). 

Face coverings aren’t intended to block all particles down to these ultra-fine particles, but instead to help capture larger droplets and aerosols that the wearer breathes out, which can carry the virus. 

Collectively, this reduction in particles escaping is thought to reduce the risk of community transmission in enclosed public spaces.

Source: Which? 

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Lloyds Pharmacy said: ‘We take the quality and efficacy of the products we sell very seriously and work with our suppliers to ensure they comply with UK regulations and standards. 

‘We have confirmed with the supplier of the Termin8 mask in question that it is compliant with all necessary requirements as set out by the Department for Health & Social Care and the British Retail Consortium, for use as a face covering in numerous public settings as required by UK law.’

Superdrug said: ‘We dispute the testing methods that have been used by Which? and are disappointed that the fabric Face Cover by our supplier Etiquette Super Mask has been given a ‘Don’t Buy’ rating because it has been tested against the EN 14683 standard for surgical masks and the CEN Workshop Agreement which is not an official standard. 

‘This product was clearly retailed as a fabric face covering and not a surgical mask – designed to help the wearer reduce the spread of a cold or virus, as per Government guidelines.’

Asda said: ‘Product safety is our key priority and all of our George face coverings comply with and British Retail Consortium guidance and the Office for Product Safety and Standards. 

‘The covering that featured in this review was produced before the CWA17533 guidelines were published and is no longer on sale.’

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35033606 8896379 image a 18 1604051477236

FACE MASK POLICY IN THE UK

Face masks must be worn on public transport and in many indoor spaces, including shops, shopping centres, indoor transport hubs, museums, galleries, cinemas and public libraries. 

It is currently the law for passengers to wear face coverings in taxis and private hire vehicles, in hospitality venues, like restaurants and bars, other than when you are eating and drinking. Staff in retail and hospitality settings are also legally required to wear face coverings. 

If necessary, the police and Transport for London (TfL) officers have enforcement powers including issuing fines of £200 (halving to £100 if paid within 14 days).

It comes after the World Health Organisation and numerous studies suggested they are beneficial.

As announced, the Government will bring forward changes to mean that for repeat offenders these fines would double at each offence up to a maximum value of £6,400.  

The Prime Minister has also announced tougher enforcement measures, with businesses facing fines or closure for failing to comply with coronavirus rules, meaning there will be consequences for pubs that try to serve you at the bar.

National Police Chiefs’ Council chairman Martin Hewitt said: ‘Individuals, businesses and households all have a responsibility to ensure the virus is suppressed and police will play their part in supporting the public to navigate the measures in place for our safety.

‘Our approach of engaging with people and explaining the regulations in place will remain. The vast majority of situations are resolved following those two stages, with little need for further encouragement or enforcement action to be taken,’ he said.

‘Police will continue to work with their communities and only issue fines as a last resort.

‘Chiefs will be stepping up patrols in high-risk areas and will proactively work with businesses, licensing authorities and local authorities to ensure the rules are being followed.

‘If members of the public are concerned that the law is being broken or they are experiencing anti-social behaviour, they can report this to the police, who will consider the most appropriate response and will target the most problematic behaviour.’  

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This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Friend says Khashoggi ‘threatened’ by Saudi official before death

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friend says khashoggi threatened by saudi official before death

A close friend of Jamal Khashoggi has told a Turkish court on Tuesday that the slain Saudi journalist felt threatened by people close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The main court in Istanbul held a second hearing in the trial in absentia of 26 Saudi suspects in the Washington Post columnist’s high-profile murder — including two former aides to the powerful Saudi crown prince.

The 59-year-old was suffocated and dismembered inside the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate on October 2, 2018 after going inside to get documents for his marriage to Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz.

The murder sparked an international outcry and tarnished the reputation of the oil-rich kingdom and the crown prince.

Jamal Khashoggi

Jamal Khashoggi

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

A close friend of Jamal Khashoggi (left) has told a Turkish court on Tuesday that the slain Saudi journalist felt threatened by people close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (right)

Ayman Nour, an Egyptian political dissident and longtime friend of Khashoggi, told the court that the journalist had described to him being personally threatened by the Saudi media czar.

‘Jamal said he had been threatened by Qahtani and his family,’ Turkish media quoted Nour as telling the court.

‘Nour said Khashoggi had reported being threatened by Saud al-Qahtani since 2016,’ Rebecca Vincent of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) separately tweeted from the courtroom.

‘Khashoggi spoke of a phone call from Qahtani when he was living in Washington DC, saying he knew his kids and where they lived. Nour said Khashoggi was crying, which was unusual, and said he was afraid.’

The Turkish trial is being held separately from a Saudi one that overturned five death sentences issued after a closed-door hearing in September.

The Riyadh court instead jailed eight unidentified people for terms ranging from seven to 20 years in what Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) both called a ‘parody of justice’.

Turkish prosecutors have charged Saudi’s former deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri and the royal court’s one-time media czar Saud al-Qahtani with orchestrating the murder and giving direct orders to a Saudi hit team.

Khashoggi’s fiancee Cengiz also attended Tuesday’s hearing, which was adjourned to March 4.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the order to murder Khashoggi came from ‘the highest levels’ of the Saudi government but has never directly blamed Prince Mohammed.

Relations between the two countries suffered in the wake of Khashoggi’s death.

Ayman Nour (pictured) told the court that the journalist had described to him being personally threatened by the Saudi media czar

Ayman Nour (pictured) told the court that the journalist had described to him being personally threatened by the Saudi media czar

Ayman Nour (pictured) told the court that the journalist had described to him being personally threatened by the Saudi media czar

But Erdogan discussed ways to enhance ties with the prince’s ageing father King Salman on the eve of last weekend’s virtual G20 summit hosted by Saudi Arabia.

The Turkish trial is monitored closely by human rights advocates.

Vincent said the Istanbul court rejected RSF’s application to become a civil party in the Khashoggi’s case.

This would have given the Paris-based group broader access to court documents.

‘We were disappointed,’ Vincent told AFP, calling it ‘a missed opportunity to ensure robust international scrutiny.’

‘But regardless we will continue to closely monitor this case and call for adherence to international standards,’ she said.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Ministers ‘plot foreign aid law change’ as Scots Tory Ruth Davidson brands it ‘poor economics’ 

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ministers plot foreign aid law change as scots tory ruth davidson brands it poor economics

Ministers could change the law to cut Britain’s foreign aid budget as part of sweeping economic reforms.

The current rate of 0.7 per cent of GDP was enshrined in law by the Coalition government in 2015, but the current administration wants to cut it to 0.5 per cent.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to outline a raft of economic moves tomorrow when he presents a spending review to help the UK get through the pandemic. 

Boris Johnson is believed to have approved a temporary cut for just a year, but altering the law would allow the target to be lowered more permanently. 

The UK has previously said it would be cutting its global aid budget by £2.9 billion this year due to the economic hit of the coronavirus crisis, but that the 0.7 per cent commitment towards international development would still be met. 

The legal change, first reported by the BBC, comes as politicians and church leaders voice their concern at the plans.

Former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson became the latest to do so today, branding the proposal ‘bad economics’.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to outline a raft of economic moves tomorrow when he presents a spending review to help the UK get through the pandemic

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to outline a raft of economic moves tomorrow when he presents a spending review to help the UK get through the pandemic

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to outline a raft of economic moves tomorrow when he presents a spending review to help the UK get through the pandemic

Politicians and church leaders have voiced their concern at the plans, with former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson branding the proposal 'bad economics'

Politicians and church leaders have voiced their concern at the plans, with former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson branding the proposal 'bad economics'

Politicians and church leaders have voiced their concern at the plans, with former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson branding the proposal ‘bad economics’

Writing in the Times, Ms Davidson, a former critic of Boris Johnson, said: ‘The UK has always believed in shouldering its burden in the world. When famine or natural disaster strike, Britain pitches in. 

‘We’re one of the biggest educators of girls on the planet, support the largest vaccine programmes and do more to return war-ravaged land to civilian use through de-mining programmes than every other nation bar the US.

‘This isn’t simple charity, it benefits us too. Countries with healthy, educated, literate populations – and without huge swathes of unusable land – have higher employment, greater resilience and are more stable. 

‘They are less likely to descend into war or provide home to terrorists and are more likely to prove bigger and more reliable suppliers and consumers for trade.’

The MSP joins the former prime ministers David Cameron and Tony Blair in warning against the move, while Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has also made a significant intervention.

Mr Welby told The Observer: ‘A global recovery from the economic consequences of the pandemic requires a global response. Keeping our aid commitment is a strong signal that the UK is a reliable partner for long-term economic, social, environmental and educational advancement across the globe.’

Mr Cameron, who oversaw the country first meeting the 0.7% target in 2013, said abandoning it would be a ‘moral, strategic and political mistake’.

And Mr Blair said foreign aid – and the 0.7% target – had been a ‘great British soft power achievement’ and that it had saved millions of lives in Africa by reducing deaths from malaria and HIV.

Last week, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman drew attention to the fact the legislation enshrining the 0.7% target in UK law explicitly acknowledged it might not always be met.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has also made a significant intervention, telling the Observer: 'Keeping our aid commitment is a strong signal that the UK is a reliable partner for long-term economic, social, environmental and educational advancement across the globe'

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has also made a significant intervention, telling the Observer: 'Keeping our aid commitment is a strong signal that the UK is a reliable partner for long-term economic, social, environmental and educational advancement across the globe'

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has also made a significant intervention, telling the Observer: ‘Keeping our aid commitment is a strong signal that the UK is a reliable partner for long-term economic, social, environmental and educational advancement across the globe’

Meanwhile, coronavirus has led to a strain on the public purse with the Government spending billions keeping the economy ticking over.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was grilled on the proposed change today int he Commons.

SNP MP Neil Gray asked if now was the right time to be considering cuts to the UK’s aid budget given US president-elect Joe Biden’s commitment to increase aid spending.

Mr Raab replied: ‘Actually, we consistently show that we are a leading, if not one of the leading, countries on aid. That will continue.

‘We’ve also, which will matter to the United States, indicated the increase in defence spending which shows what a dependable ally we are and all of the soundings that we’ve had, and I’ve had, with the incoming leadership show there are huge opportunities on climate change, on Covid, to strengthen the relationship even further.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Mark Meadows tells president’s staff they need permission to speak to members of next administration

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mark meadows tells presidents staff they need permission to speak to members of next administration

Mark Meadows has instructed White House staff not to speak with Joe Biden‘s team, in another sign President Donald Trump‘s team is still not completely complying with the transition despite authorizing it Monday.

‘Unless specifically authorized,’ the White House chief of staff said in a late Monday evening memo seen by Bloomberg that those on Trump’s team ‘are not permitted to speak directly with a member of the Biden transition team or the federal transition coordinator.’

Meadows, however, did say in the memo that the White House would ‘comply with all actions needed to ensure the smooth transfer of power.’

He said that the Trump administration’s work is not yet finished.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows instructed Trump's team not to 'speak directly' with members of the new administration unless given 'specific authorization' to do so

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows instructed Trump's team not to 'speak directly' with members of the new administration unless given 'specific authorization' to do so

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows instructed Trump’s team not to ‘speak directly’ with members of the new administration unless given ‘specific authorization’ to do so

Although the transition process has been authorized, President Donald Trump says this is no where close to a concession that he lost to Joe Biden

Although the transition process has been authorized, President Donald Trump says this is no where close to a concession that he lost to Joe Biden

Although the transition process has been authorized, President Donald Trump says this is no where close to a concession that he lost to Joe Biden

Trump finally allowed the transition to Biden to commence, but the president made it clear he is still not conceding the election and will fight the results to the end.

The General Services Administration ascertained the election for Biden Monday, which Trump said he authorized, meaning the former vice president will now begin to get daily intelligence briefings and communicate with the COVID task force.

‘Remember, the GSA has been terrific, and Emily Murphy has done a great job, but the GSA does not determine who the next President of the United States will be,’ Trump tweeted Tuesday morning. 

The transition could only begin once the GSA recognized the ‘apparent successful candidate.’

Biden began announcing his Cabinet picks on Monday and will formally introduce them during a speech in Delaware on Tuesday afternoon.

Many Republicans were urging the president to allow the transition to begin after GSA Administrator Emily Murphy made it clear she would not sign off on the transition process even after Biden declared victory and most major media outlets called him the victor.

Trump has praised Murphy for holding her ground.

‘I want to thank Emily Murphy at GSA for her steadfast dedication and loyalty to our Country,’ Trump tweeted Monday. ‘She has been harassed, threatened, and abused – and I do not want to see this happen to her, her family, or employees of GSA.’

‘Our case STRONGLY continues, we will keep up the good fight, and I believe we will prevail!’ he continued. ‘Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.’

Meadows and other senior Trump aides, including White House Counsel Pat Cipolline, have encouraged the president to allow the transition to begin – even without conceding.

They admitted they could not justify withholding support for the transition any longer.

Trump has launched several legal challenges in swing states that went blue this year, but many have already been thrown out and none have yet prevailed.

General Services Administration Administrator Emily Murphy would not sign off on ascertaining the election for Joe Biden until yesterday ¿ when Trump said he instructed her to give the OK for the transition to begin

General Services Administration Administrator Emily Murphy would not sign off on ascertaining the election for Joe Biden until yesterday ¿ when Trump said he instructed her to give the OK for the transition to begin

General Services Administration Administrator Emily Murphy would not sign off on ascertaining the election for Joe Biden until yesterday – when Trump said he instructed her to give the OK for the transition to begin

36049234 8982147 image a 10 1606229036819

36049234 8982147 image a 10 1606229036819

Trump took credit for the ascertainment, claiming he will allow the transition to begin

Trump took credit for the ascertainment, claiming he will allow the transition to begin

Trump took credit for the ascertainment, claiming he will allow the transition to begin

The president reiterated on Twitter that the transition did not mean his concession – still insisting it will be revealed he is the true winner.

‘What does GSA being allowed to preliminarily work with the Dems have to do with continuing to pursue our various cases on what will go down as the most corrupt election in American political history?’ he asked.

The post was flagged as disputed by Twitter.

Trump continued on Monday evening; ‘We are moving full speed ahead. Will never concede to fake ballots & ‘Dominion’.’

Dominion Voting Systems spoke out Sunday saying it is ‘not physically possible’ for its machines to change voter selections.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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