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How many lives could have been saved?

The etiquette of face covering
I’ve been to two local shopping centres recently, wearing my own mask, and watching both the numbers of people not wearing masks, and the number of people who may be wearing or at least carrying a mask, but are not doing so correctly. From touching their masks continually at the front (masks should only be handled by their ear loops), to children dropping them on the floor, and putting them on again, the range of dangerous practices likely to spread a range of potential infections that I saw were legion. Wearing a mask is not a substitute for rigorous hand hygiene. Your mask should stay on, untouched, for as long as your quick trip to the shopping centre lasts.
The community clearly needs a great deal more education on mask protocol and etiquette, along with the continued necessity for hand hygiene and social distancing.
Louise Moran, Belmont

If mandatory, masks should be free
Daniel Andrews has the audacity to tell me that I must spend part of my meagre Age Pension on face masks of dubious benefit or face a $200 fine. Surely, given that the government has mandated masks, it should provide them. Wearing of masks should be optional. I will not be told by this government how I must spend my money.
Stuart Campbell, Blackburn North

Taiwan strategy proves effective
For those who dispute the effectiveness of masks, Taiwan has been one of the most successful countries in dealing with COVID-19. It has a population of almost 24 million on an island half the size of Tasmania and has recorded seven deaths and about 440 cases. Masks have been mandatory in public, and on public transport, since the beginning of the pandemic.
Robert John Finlayson, Dynnyrne, Tas.

Looking out for the 2020 era ‘smart mask’
The advances made by mankind in the last century exceed those made in the preceding millennia. In every area, progress has been phenomenal. Science, engineering, medicine. And now we are donning 1918-era face masks. They are clunky, uncomfortable and there has been debate about their effectiveness. Fame, plaudits and great wealth await the inventor who comes up with a 2020 era ‘‘smart mask’’.
Roger Mendelson, Toorak

THE FORUM

Community spirit
‘‘Lockdown spells end for refugee-run feasts’’ (The Age, 21/7) is a story that is sad, inspiring and demonstrates resilience. Tamil Feasts shows the resourcefulness of what is possible as a community enterprise. COVID-19 for all its challenges, gives us the opportunity to remind ourselves of what is most important in our lives – community is one such aspect. While we are unsure what the future holds as a result of COVID-19, let us embrace community, live simply and welcome ‘‘the other’’. I hope in the future Tamil Feasts is resurrected. I also hope MrMurugamoorthy and MrVithyasekar are eligible for government assistance, given so many people who have sought asylum, have been abandoned.
Judith Morrison, Mount Waverley

End casualisation
The casualisation of the workforce has been happening for years and there has been little outcry. Now that people are infecting others because of this cruel system, suddenly people are up in arms and calling for something to be done about it. It is past time that workers were given security in their jobs and treated as humans not working ants.
Margaret Collings, Anglesea

Forgotten border towns
Does anyone in Spring Street care that Victorian border communities that have no coronavirus cases are having their health, education and economic security put at risk by NSW rules aimed at making their Premier look good in Sydney?

As the NSW Chief Health Officer has said, their latest infections came from a Melbourne hotspot, not border towns. The towns either side of the border are in fact single communities that are being irreparably damaged by big city politicians. The Premier needs to speak up on our behalf.
Dennis Quinn, Bonegilla

Circuits of the ward
Well Dave of Hawthorn, it might be tough doing ‘‘endless circuits along unsuitable roads’’ (Letters, 21/7) but how about endless circuits around the ward (or, worse, while outside) waiting for someone you love to recover. Everyone needs to make sacrifices … a ride close to your home is not so tough. How many kilometres a day do you reckon you’ll be able to do if you contract coronavirus?
Phillip Swain, Geelong

Trump fits the bill
If it should come to pass that US President Donald Trump has to be ‘‘fumigated out’’ of the White House if he refuses to leave after an election loss, as House of Representative speaker Nancy Pelosi said in an interview with MSNBC (The Age, 21/7), then that will complete the picture of Trump’s Third World banana-republic style of leadership where leaders routinely refuse to leave after their electoral defeat at the polls. Trump certainly fits the bill.
Rajend Naidu, Glenfield, NSW

Dealing with upheaval
It was clear towards the end of the 20th century that things could not stay the same for long. There was growing alarm over climate warming but successive governments dithered and equivocated and this year we have lived through the worst fire season in our history while right now rising sea levels are demolishing homes on the NSW coast. Economically, the GFC and now the coronavirus pandemic have clearly demonstrated that the ‘‘invisible hand’’ of laissez faire economics is an impotent force in the face of global upheaval. Only governments, a willing business community and knowledgeable citizens working together can develop and implement policies that promise economic and environmental sustainability into the future.
Peter McCarthy, Mentone

An overpopulated planet
Peter Hartcher laments the decline of the world population (‘‘Beware the population bust’’, 21/7). From a purely economic viewpoint, Hartcher is right: this makes for endless growth and continued prosperity (for some). But we must look at the other side of the coin. Hartcher is considering only Western nations and a very small number of non-white nations. What about the rest of the world? More than half the world’s population live in poverty. Take the case of India where millions die of hunger every year and more than half the population lives below the poverty line. The food resources available today are sufficient to meet the needs of half the population of the world without damaging the environment. If the world population is in decline, we should be happy as the world cannot afford to have too many people.
Bill Mathew, Parkville

Little to complain about
To the critics carping at Australian leaders striving valiantly to rescue us from the virus, I say, politely, ‘‘Pull your heads in’’. It could be worse. Like living in America, where families and communities are being devastated by death and illness, while the White House assures people that they are living in the land of milk and honey.

The President only pauses from his daily routine of self-worship to play golf. Actually, that may be fake news. His nightly activity on the Twitter stage is to attack anyone who fails to share his opinions. Judges, state governors, medical specialists and news commentators are selected for special derision.

President Pantomime presents his one-man stage show shouting out his falsehoods and outrageous claims, hoping to trick his audience to believe that his fiction is fact. Our situation is grim but we have relatively little to complain about.
Alan McLean, Travancore

Numbers speak loudly
Is The Age selectively publishing letters supportive of the Premier or are readers of The Age blinded by their loyalty to the cause. Maybe we have been unlucky in Victoria and maybe the large increases in infections might well have occurred in the other states but for their good fortune, but the numbers speak for themselves. Victoria has by far the majority of new COVID-19 cases in Australia and the Premier, government and the bureaucracy should not be revered for this.
Alan Kozica, South Yarra

Taking responsibility
I’m disturbed by the relentless campaign of ridicule against Daniel Andrews, which didn’t just start after the quarantine breakdown. Coverage is blinkered, any mistake is pounced upon without acknowledgement of the extraordinary effort made to quash this outbreak.

To me, the blame for our current crisis sits squarely on the shoulders of people who break the rules including the hotel quarantine disaster and subsequent community spread. Our personal responsibility cannot be palmed off to the government.

The Victorian government has failed in overseeing the quarantine process. Although successive, usually Liberal, governments have slashed the public service, now we have a crisis, a crack team is demanded.

Mr Andrews has been a great leader for Victoria and remains one now. He’s a man who faces up to a setback, owns it and moves on to the job required.

Australians repeatedly claim to want a politician with a vision, who acts and doesn’t waste time taking cheap shots at the opposition. He’s the embodiment of that. The opposition leader, Michael O’Brien is the opposite.
Donna Flannery, Surrey Hills

Plebeian step for MPs
Apparently it is safe for the PM to go to the footy with little regard to social distancing, it is also safe for teachers to be in a classroom with no hope of achieving social distancing. But apparently it is not safe for our MPs to gather in Parliament because they would not be able to achieve social distancing. I can only think of two reasons behind this obvious hypocrisy. One, our MPs are too technophobic and/or lazy to find a way to meet electronically, or two, if they were to meet in Canberra then the NSW and Victorian MPs would have to do two weeks’ isolation and that would be a plebeian step too far for them. After all, we are all in this together, except for when we are not.
Ross Hudson, Camberwell

Eliminate or eradicate?
For those arguing against effective elimination, I would like to ask if they are confusing this with eradication. Nobody is suggesting that we close our borders to all trade. New Zealand hasn’t banned trade. Yes, there is always the risk that isolated cases could escape from quarantine, but, with no underlying community transmission, these isolated cases could be quickly suppressed. We will have to be vigilant until we have a vaccine, but this would be the case no matter what strategy we adopt. The difference is in whether we think the short-term economic pain of a hard shutdown for a month and eliminating community transmission would be worth the long-term gain of being able to have a fairly open, confident economy within our borders. As 80 per cent of community transmission is in workplaces, wouldn’t it also make sense now, in Melbourne at least, to shut down all non-essential activities for a month? Economic assistance would be needed, but the alternative could be worse, with many businesses hit harder with the open/shut policy.
Karen Trist, St Kilda

Walk, pedal for stimulus
It’s great to read about the Climate Council’s proposal for tens of thousands of clean jobs to help in the current slump (‘‘‘Clean jobs’ could aid unemployment’’, 21/7). One area that can create many jobs quickly, and that has so many other health and community benefits, is active transport – walking and cycling. By building many more walking and cycling paths and safe road crossings, we can create more liveable cities.

Walk on Moreland and the Moreland Bicycle Users Group have successfully lobbied Moreland Council for more walking and cycling infrastructure. But councils can do only so much. So come on, Victorian government, commit more funds for infrastructure to create clean jobs and healthy, safe, liveable streets.
Andrea Bunting, Brunswick

AND ANOTHER THING

Coronavirus
Dave Barter worries he won’t be able to cycle long distances (Letters, 21/7). Has be thought of strapping a set of golf clubs to his bike?
Ann Banham, Williamstown

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While the blame game continues in Victoria, would the opposition care to offer an alternative solution to the handling of the crisis?
Annie Wilson, Inverloch

Adam Liaw for Australian of the Year. Keeping me sane in lockdown.
Katriona Fahey, Alphington

What does Scott Morrison think he’s doing as he merrily elbow bumps his way around every photo opportunity? You cannot elbow bump at a safe 1.5 metres distance.
Anne Hogan, Croydon North

The salaries and allowances of federal Members of Parliament should be reduced following the decision of PM Scott Morrison to cancel parliamentary sittings.
Russell J. Castley, Creswick

I’m already seeing discarded masks and gloves all around my suburb. How about the government bring in fines for people who just drop their used protective gear on the ground?
Indra Liepins, Glenroy

With Parliament being cancelled, it’s a pity Scottie can’t get to finish his holiday in Hawaii.
Barry Kranz, Mount Clear

Australia Post
Why on earth would Australia Post want to slow down the delivery of letters (The Age, 21/7). Is this another step by the government to cripple the postal service?
Chris Burgess, Port Melbourne

Football
The more we hear Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson’s job is safe, the more worried he should be.
Geoff Phillips, Wonga Park

Watching Sydney and Hawthorn play is like watching a drowning man dragging down his rescuers with him.
Justin Shaw, Ringwood East

Finally
Just when I thought there could never be a worse president than Trump, along comes Kanye West.
Susan Munday, Bentleigh East

To submit a letter to The Age, email letters@theage.com.au. Please include your home address and telephone number.

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