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One size does not fit all when it comes to mask safety

Doctors and medical staff have the training and habits to use masks effectively. Handing them out to the public with no instructions is pointless. To see this for yourself you only need to go to the supermarket. It won’t take long for you to see someone taking the mask off to sniff the produce. That person has just handled their concentrated infection source (their mask) with their fingers, and then touched the produce. That’s it, the mask’s usefulness negated at a stroke. Any handling of the mask with your hands automatically negates a large chunk of its benefits.
Nick Angelov, St Kilda

Restrict runners, cyclists to designated areas
There are far too many unmasked cyclists and runners who weave around pedestrians and sometimes do so at considerable speed and in unacceptable proximity. And of course, many are huffing and puffing as they go. These behaviours seem quite nonsensical and potentially dangerous: one wonders how many ‘‘mystery cases’’ of COVID-19 infection arise from them. Surely, if cyclists and runners are to be allowed to go unmasked they should be restricted to designated areas that others can avoid.
John D. Wark, Docklands

Droplets from runners spluttering and shouting
I continue to be amazed and perturbed to see joggers, individuals and pairs running without the obligation to wear masks. That many of these individuals emit more droplets as they splutter or shout to each other is readily apparent. Is anyone aware of research supporting the notion that joggers are low-risk emitters compared to the general population? The other issue with joggers is how often they make no effort to change course when they encounter people walking on the path. Dr Arthur Klepfisz, Toorak

Thank you to selfless jogger
To the one jogger who not only swerved off the pathway in order to maintain the required distance from the elderly lady walking towards him but who was also wearing a mask. Thank you.
Alison Davies, Surrey Hills

THE FORUM

Gas on repeat
The LNP might benefit from sleep learning podcasts that just repeat over and over ‘‘Gas is not a transition fuel’’, since they don’t seem to be able to get it from scientific experts such as former chief scientist Penny Sackett during daylight hours (‘‘Ex-chief scientist in call to halt gas plan’’, 10/8).
Lynn Frankes, Kew

Politics, science at odds
The science and our political leaders continue to be at odds on climate change. We are on track not to meet the Paris greenhouse gas target, and the Australian government continues to promote the use of fossil fuels to the detriment of the biosphere and future generations.

The scientific viewpoint, when not subject to political compromise, is that all fossil fuels should not be used. We have the technology to replace fossil sources of hydrocarbon fuels required for transport with manufactured product. The benefits are manifold, to both the environment and the economy; jobs creation and future proofing our energy sources for the 21st century and beyond. Such a change would eliminate the risk of fossil oil spills and presents a win-win for both the biosphere and humanity.
Nicholas Howe, Malvern

Getting shirty
Let’s not forget that before COVID-19, Dan Andrews spent every day for months leading Victoria through a bushfire crisis. He was certainly not resting up for the pandemic in a Hawaiian shirt with a mojito. Perhaps the LNP armchair critics could reflect on this, and remember where their leader was at the same time.
Linda Robertson, Ivanhoe

Mute the MPs
If Parliament were to be conducted on Zoom or similar, the appalling behaviour so often seen in that place could be removed. The Speaker would mute all but the person who has the floor. I say bring it on. And keep it on. After the virus, every politician already has a screen in their office. The House could have three large screens facing the Speaker. Politics as a ‘‘contact sport’’ could continue but the business would be conducted much more civilly and more expeditiously.
Dick Danckert, Torquay

Ask the questions
To all those blasting the media for ‘‘bullying’’ Mikakos and Andrews: When did it come to a point where journalists could no longer hold the government to account?

To ask questions and provide the public with information is their job. Somehow or other a growing wave of people think that in the midst of a crisis, governments shouldn’t be asked questions, allowed to do whatever they please and the press should just be ‘‘nice’’. Journalists need to ask questions and hold the government to account, especially in times like these. It’s not about putting people down, it’s about sustaining the comfortable liberal democracy that we all enjoy and take for granted.
Chenny Chen, Werribee

Stone the Crows
Stone the Crows, South Australia wants Adelaide to be the venue for this year’s AFL grand final? This is the state that slammed its borders shut to Victorians and now they want our greatest sports attraction. Could it be because Port Adelaide is on top of the ladder? Well, they can have their grand prix back forever, but the grand final – not now, not ever.
Danny Cole, Essendon

Winning advantage
There’s only one reason why Victorian AFL clubs want the Gabba to host an interstate grand final – winning! Look at their win-loss ratios at the Gabba compared to Adelaide or Perth – the figures say it all.
Vicki Neil, Toorak

Excessive expectorating
What is it with our sportspeople and their habit of spitting constantly? During the lockup I have been watching more televised sport than normal. Over the weekend I was disgusted to see so many AFL players continually spitting. Then watching both the UK and US golf, the same thing. This habit is particularly worrying during our concerns with COVID-19. Let’s stop this unattractive habit before we find our children following in their footsteps.
Graeme Abram, Malvern

Release the detainees
Instead of reopening the detention centre on Christmas Island, surely we are now able release all asylum seekers from detention and welcome them into the community. There is no one else coming to Australia in the forseeable future and we now have proven our ability to adapt to care more for the vulnerable than ever before by placing the homeless in hotels and increasing payments for the jobless. If we are truly all in this together then let’s extend our compassion to the countryless who wish nothing more than to help Australia be a better place.
Nicholas Melaluka, Fairfield

Energy lobby uses power
Peter Holmes questions why politicians are unable to join the dots regarding the dangers of climate change as they have in their response to combating COVID-19 (Letters, 10/8). Simple answer might be that the fossil fuel industry, fronted by their well-financed industry associations and lobbyists, have been working hard for more than 30 years to convince politicians that climate change either does not exist or does not pose a threat. Politicians from all sides have become addicted to the donations that flow from the industry and will not listen to the science.

The fossil fuel industry is under pressure as the cost of renewables falls and the economics of developing new fossil fuel outlets (mines, power plants) does not stack up. The opportunity to break the nexus of economic and political power the fossil fuel industry holds is now and this government needs to grasp that opportunity and invest in renewables.
John Winzer, Doncaster East

Make libraries essential
It is absurd that community libraries have not been classified as essential services but liquor shops have.
Richard Szreniawski, Sunshine North

Less death please
As a Victorian in lockdown, the decision to publish in Sunday Life (9/8) an article about the 2004 suicide of Anders Ousback was poor timing and ill judged. We do not need another article ending with the Lifeline number right now. In this case, it was historical, about a Sydney identity, with resonance largely for a Sydney audience. Respect to the author, and to the memoir, but not now please. Can we please have some more stories to cheer us up? Call it a civic responsibility if you will. Thank you in advance.
Natalie Hickey, Toorak

Indebted to Jones
Thank you Barry Jones (Letters, 9/8), for reminding us that the national debt currently being left for future generations is surely no more than what it was for generations after both world wars, the Spanish flu, and the Depression. Our still-living elders, and politicians too, deserve praise, respect and admiration for how they managed those catastrophic events, to leave us better off.
Margaret Hilton, Aberfeldie

Consideration deserved
It comes as a relief for year 12 students facing their end-of-year exams that they will all receive ‘‘COVID’’ special consideration. For all students to receive due consideration in order to account for the deleterious impact of coronavirus on their unit 3 and 4 exam results, teachers will be expected to come up with an ‘‘imputed’’ kind of grade. Before the exams, year 12 teachers are already required to produce a ‘‘predicted’’ grade which they believe their students should earn in the exams. This is usually based on assessed coursework. On top of that, it will be difficult for COVID consideration to be given to all students given the massive impact of the disrupted year students are experiencing.

The risk is that some parents may flood their child’s school with reports from psychologists documenting the COVID hardships their children have experienced in ways not possible for parents from lower socio-economic schools. In their efforts to relieve year 12 students’ anxiety, let’s hope the government hasn’t opened a Pandora’s box.
Nick Toovey, Beaumaris

How testing works
Stephen Duckett (‘‘We need to hear the full story behind daily tally’’, 10/8), is no doubt right to explore why the government is not giving a full picture about testing and contact tracing, however, perhaps a personal account can show just how professional parts of the testing system can be. My 21-year-old granddaughter woke on Saturday morning with vague symptoms so took herself off to be tested. She arrived at 9.30am, was second car in the queue and was on her way home in 10 minutes. At 9.30am on Sunday her results were delivered: no virus detected.

Why do we only hear the bad news? Congratulations to those who put themselves on the front line by doing the testing, those who analyse the specimen, those who deliver the results in what I consider a timely manner, and to the young people, such as my granddaughter, who show civic responsibility.
Marie Rogers, Kew

Address the problems
If Daniel Andrews wants Victorians to regain confidence in his government, he must say more than ‘‘mistakes have been made’’, while at the same time continuing the daily mantra of case numbers without providing more meaningful figures. These ‘‘mistakes’’ have already cost more than 200 lives, left many people with long-term health issues, infected more than 1000 health professionals and devastated communities.

Mr Andrews must address the ongoing problems, such as lack of PPE for frontline workers, failure in providing timely alerts to positive cases and their contacts, and gross failures in contact tracing. The call by some academics to reduce the testing rates, thus freeing resources for contact tracing, is absurd. The rational approach would be to increase the workforce for contact tracing.
Dr Raya Klinbail, Black Rock

AND ANOTHER THING …

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Coronavirus
I’m grateful that Mr Sneezy stays at home most of the time but I have met Mr Grumpy (Letters, 10/8) on a number of occasions.
Robin Jensen, Castlemaine

Some people may find sleep chanting ‘‘om’’. For those who’ve had a Catholic education a few ‘‘Hail Marys’’ is a good alternative. It works for atheists as well.
Patrice McCarthy, West Bendigo

Michael Leunig has nailed it (10/8). A little spark of light at the end of this scary tunnel.
Raeleene Gregory, Ballarat East

Leunig’s cartoon has to be his most fridgeworthy ever.
Gail Greatorex, Ormond

When will those protesters who claim their rights are compromised by coronavirus restrictions realise that their rights do not trump the rights of everyone else?
Les Aisen, Elsternwick

It didn’t take long for the ‘‘we’re all Victorians now’’ narrative to fall apart. I guess expecting statesmanship and support from politicians is unrealistic.
Anu Krishnan, Wantirna South

To keep body and soul together, stay negative and positive.
Peter Molina, Brighton East

Furthermore
The practice of naming federal seats after former prime ministers surely has its limits. I mean, who would want to live in the seat of Abbott?
Mike Puleston, Brunswick

I am sure the 17.7 per cent of all children in Australia who live below the poverty line will be excited about proposals to name an electorate after Bob Hawke.
Ronald Elliott, Sandringham

Consideration could be given to naming the seat in question after the original owners. Its non-political and few could fairly object.
Doug Perry, Mount Martha

Finally
Trump wants his head added to Mount Rushmore. Officials say it’s not possible to add another because there’s no stable surface left for carving. Well, just point to the unstable surface and say there he is.
Gerry Lonergan, Reservoir

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

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