Coronavirus outbreak inspires bursts of mask fashion creativity in Indonesia, Malaysia

UNTV News   •   June 26, 2020   •   266

Designers in Indonesia and Malaysia are adding their artistic touches to reusable face masks, providing essential supplies and style and uniqueness amid the pandemic.

In the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, Nicholas Septian Sugandi’s print shop had been losing business throughout his country’s mass-scale restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus, but thanks to a new product introduced in May, lost business has been “recovered”.

Sugandi’s shop has been printing customers’ faces onto reusable face masks so that they can “look like themselves” when wearing it.

Each of the reusable masks takes around 30 minutes to produce, and cost 50,000 Indonesian rupiah ($3) each. The print shop has received hundreds of orders.

Wearing a face mask remains a mandatory practice across Indonesia.

In neighbouring Malaysia, textile designer Hafiz Drahman has utilised traditional designs from around the region to create colourful cloth masks with interchangeable filters.

In particular, Hafiz uses Batik, which is a traditional Javanese art that uses wax and ink to decorate cloth, and is derived from the Javanese word “titik,” meaning “dot”.

“So, as a designer, I saw that as an opportunity to use the cloth that I had, that is Batik textiles, and turn it into face masks,” Hafiz said from his workshop in Shah Alam, on the outskirts of capital Kuala Lumpur.

Although face masks are not compulsory in Malaysia, people are encouraged to wear them to protect themselves in public areas.

Hafiz currently sells his masks at 20 ringgits ($4.68) each.

Indonesia currently has 50,187 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,620 deaths, the highest total in Southeast Asia, while Malaysia has recorded 8,600 cases and 121 deaths as of Friday morning (June 26). (Reuters)

(Production: Yuddy Budiman, Embrahim Harris, Angie Teo)

Houses sealed off in Verl, Germany after meat factory virus outbreak

UNTV News   •   June 24, 2020

A residential area in the town of Verl was sealed off on Tuesday (June 23) and its residents put into compulsory quarantine after a coronavirus outbreak at a meatpacking plant nearby.

As a fence was set up surrounding the area, some residents were tested by medical staff outside their buildings while others watched from their windows and were handed toys and wet wipes by staff on the other side of the fence.

Verl mayor Michael Esken said it was the only solution he could come up with given that many plant employees live side by side with neighbours who work elsewhere, increasing the risk of contagion for the whole community.

Earlier, the premier of the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia Armin Laschet said he was putting the entire Guetersloh district, where Verl is located, back into lockdown until June 30.

Guetersloh, with about 360,000 residents, is the first area in Germany to reintroduce a lockdown after the authorities began gradually lifting restrictive measures at the end of April.

Also on Tuesday, the head of the Robert Koch Institute for public health, Lothar Wieler, said local outbreaks had been a major factor behind a spike in the last few days in the coronavirus reproduction rate, currently estimated at 2.76.

A reproduction rate, or ‘R’, of 2.76 means that 100 people who have contracted the virus infect, on average, 276 others. (Reuters)

(Production: Erol Dogrudogan, Elena Gyldenkerne)

Tokyo residents welcome end of state of emergency

UNTV News   •   May 26, 2020

People in Tokyo, Japan on Tuesday (May 26) woke up to their first day with loosened social distancing curbs, after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lifted the state of emergency for all areas in the country on Monday (May 25).

Tokyo and the three surrounding prefectures, as well as Hokkaido were the last remaining areas under emergency.

Many residents welcomed the government’s decision to end the emergency, though most said they are still alert for the virus since more people are out on the streets.

“I’m still a bit worried. There may be a second wave of an epidemic so we still need to be alert,” said 45-year-old Naoto Furuki who said the trains were a lot more crowded with commuters this morning.

With the emergency order lifted, Tokyo will move into “stage one” of loosening restrictions, allowing libraries and museums to reopen, and restaurants to stay open until later in the evening. Subsequent stages would see theatres, cinemas and fairgrounds reopen.

Company employee Daisuke Tominaga is happy that the emergency state is over, saying that the Japanese economy will collapse if businesses and people have to continue to live under restrictions.

“I want to go out drinking and attend concerts,” he said enthusiastically.

Many shops and restaurants have restarted operations since the government began lifting the emergency in rural and suburban areas earlier this month, but some stores remain closed. (Reuters)

(Production: Kim Kyung-Hoon, Akiko Okamoto, Travis Teo)

UK PM Johnson backs under-fire aide Cummings

UNTV News   •   May 25, 2020

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson backed his senior adviser Dominic Cummings on Sunday (May 24), despite calls from within his own Conservative Party for the aide to resign for traveling 400km during the coronavirus lockdown.

Cummings, who masterminded the 2016 campaign to leave the European Union, came under pressure when newspapers reported he had travelled from London to Durham in late March, when Britain was under a strict lockdown to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

Johnson’s office said Cummings made the journey to ensure his 4-year-old son could be properly cared for by relatives if he too fell ill.

The journey took place at a time when millions of Britons were staying inside and foregoing contacts with friends and relatives. The government’s order at the time was everyone in a household where anyone had symptoms must not leave home.

With Johnson’s words that he had acted with integrity, Cummings was safe. But the row within the governing Conservatives looked set to ripple on, with those who called for the senior aide’s resignation expected to be marginalized.

The newspapers have since reported that Cummings was seen in northern England on other occasions. The government has denied this.

A number of cabinet ministers and the attorney general have said that the journey was justified. (Reuters)

(Production: Paul Warren, Gabriela Boccaccio, Michael Fiorentino)

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