Homemade face masks get creative amid global shortage

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From banana leaves in the Amazon to baking paper in Italy, people have come up with unconventional ways to make masks and fight the pandemic. Some countries have already made wearing masks mandatory.

Amid a global shortage of face masks, people around the world have found creative ways to make their own masks to try protect themselves and others against the novel coronavirus.

While the World Health Organization (WHO) has said only symptomatic people or those caring for coronavirus patients need face masks, a number of countries including Israel and the Czech Republic have made it mandatory to cover the nose and mouth in certain circumstances.

Factories are scrambling to produce at least 20 times more face masks a day to keep up with the high demand, but according to the National Development and Reform Commission in China, the masks can be quite difficult and expensive to manufacture. Due to a dire shortage, the prices of face masks have also soared around tenfold and there are a number of  reported cases of fake providers in the market.

So, people have become very creative in finding ways to make their own face masks. Chinese netizens on Weibo have posted photos of people assembling sanitary pads, diapers and fruit cut into half and pitted to be used as face masks. Meanwhile, social media platform Twitter has a showcase of posts showing people from the US to India taking to the sewing machine or posting instructions on how to hand sew facemasks.

The Dawoodi Bohras@Dawoodi_Bohras

Dawoodi Bohra women across different parts of India and from overseas are pulling out their sewing machines to stitch face masks from home, and distributing them to neighbours & essential service workers for free.@HTMumbai reports. https://bit.ly/2RHB16s 

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North KC Hospital@NKCHospital

NKCH is in need of cloth face masks. You can find sewing instructions at http://nkch.org/donate . Drop off donations with our valets at the Pavilion entrance of the hospital. The CDC now recommends that everyone wear a face covering when out in public. Thank you!

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Italy: Baking paper

Italian journalist and presenter Barbara Palombelli showed fellow Italians how to create a DIY face mask using baking paper. Her creative tutorial was broadcasted on Italian television.


Barbara Palombelli ha fatto il tutorial su come creare una mascherina fai da te con la carta da forno. Non penso vedremo niente di più iconico mi spiace

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UK: Tupperware

This Brit was caught wearing a plastic container over her head while on public transport.

Elphège Kolingba@Elphege2020

The most innovative face mask 💚👍

Hygienic haircuts, psychic Skype readings and a black cab boom: Britain responds to the coronavirus crisis.

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Cuba and Japan: Bras and handkerchiefs

Cubans and Japanese citizens have been coming up with some unconventional ways of making protective masks from handkerchiefs or bras with elastic bands due to a shortage of protective gear.

DW News


Can’t find a facemask? These Cubans have a creative solution 😷

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朝比奈 夢乃@asahinayumeno



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Hong Kong: Plastic bottles

Some Hong Kongers have been seen wearing plastic water bottles over their heads as a form of protective gear amid the city’s mask shortage.

Miu Yip@MiuYip1

In Hong Kong everyone crazy for mask. All mask are sold out. Some people use plastic bottle to replace mask.

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Michelle Dellene @ MastCellDisease.com 😷@livingwithmcas

I read it can get in through the eyes, too, though. Not sure if that’s true but we might need to throw a plastic bottle over the ski mask…

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People in the Philippines have been seen sporting diapers, underwear and garbage bags as face masks. The country also suffered a shortage of face masks during the eruption of Taal volcano in mid-January so Filipinos have already been making homemade masks before the coronavirus outbreak.

Kalekye Kasina@KalekyeMoments

Business smart, survival skills/tragically stupid? Muranga residents move over! Filipino govt. endorsed wearing of diapers, bras/underwear if citizens couldn’t procure N95 face mask. This was however done for protection against ash fall from an erupted volcano mid January, 2020.

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Kalekye Kasina@KalekyeMoments

Staff of a Philippines hospital improvise garbage bags to protect themselves against Some of their colleagues have already been exposed. Hope mass production of PPEs KICOTEC & Rivatex promised is on course. We don’t want our medical workers put at risk!

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Indigenous tribes in the Amazon: Banana leaves

Indigenous people in Peru’s Amazon jungle, who have not received government assistance, are protecting themselves with face masks made from banana leaves. The banana leaves are first washed and then placed over a fire to soften the leaves.

“We use what we have to protect ourselves from this disease that is all over the world. We are using banana leaves to protect ourselves from the virus,” Julio Cusurichi, leader of the federation of indigenous communities in the Madre de Dios region of Peru’s central jungle, told French news agency AFP. “So far, we have no help from the government … Food is already scarce, there is no money for oil, nor for sugar and much less for masks,” he added.

Francisco Jara@FranciscoJara3

Indígenas amazónicos peruanos usan mascarillas de hojas de plátano para protegerse del coronavirus

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América Noticias


Las comunidades nativas exigen al gobierno la entrega de bonos económicos, así como como canastas con alimentos para hacerle frente a la paralización por la pandemia del coronavirus http://ow.ly/M1Mc30qxX8i 

Coronavirus: Indígenas de Madre de Dios usan mascarillas de hojas de plátano como protesta

Exigen al Gobierno  la entrega del bono económico y canastas humanitarias ante la pandemia del coronavirus


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Kenya: Rubbish, leaves and vegetables

Meanwhile, Twitter posts showing Kenyans using leaves and recycled materials as face masks illustrates the severe shortage of medical equipment in the east African nation amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Solomon Kimani@solomonkimani_

All in the name of

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Kalekye Kasina@KalekyeMoments

This is a statement. It might be a joke to you but for him it’s a matter of life or…. GoK and county governments use the Covid-19 funds to distribute adequate facemasks free to far flung areas.

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This picture has pained me. Kindly if there is someone out there willing to donate some masks to mothers in Wajir I will really appreciate. @Asmali77 @FauzKhalid @khalidjoho.

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