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Cloth masks can slow the spread of COVID-19, save lives, and help restore the economy

There is consensus amongst experts that wearing a cloth mask in public and together with social distancing and good hand hygiene can help slow the spread of COVID-19(1-2).

The #masks4george project was initiated by the George Hospital and aims to raise funds to purchase and distribute cloth masks to the most vulnerable members of the population in George. The objective is to urgently supply 100 000 masks to those who cannot afford to buy a mask.

An important objective #masks4george is to stimulate and support local economic development by creating jobs. By slowing the spread of COVID-19, we can support economic activity by preventing more stringent lockdown measures from being implemented. We have partnered with Azaria, an NPO that provides skills training and employment opportunities for vulnerable women, empowering them to escape cycles of poverty and abuse.

For just R15 you can help by providing a high-quality cloth mask for a person in need. #masks4george will and ensure that the masks you donate reach our most vulnerable population. We will never sell masks.

#masks4george is an opportunity for everyone living in George to come together and work as a collective to support our community. We need individuals, businesses and community organisations to donate masks or funds. You can also help by spreading the word and following our social media links.

Click to see How can I Help?

"My mask protects you and your mask protects me."

In his National Freedom day message President Cyril Ramaphosa highlighted that our interdependence is key to our very survival as a people (27 April 2020). Wearing a mask primarily protects those around me, but also myself so we all need wear a mask. It is something we can all contribute to that eventually benefits everyone by reducing the spread of infection —but only if we all do this. A significant portion of individuals with SARS-CoV-2 (the novel coronavirus) may be asymptomatic but can still be contagious and spread virus. Because we don’t know for sure who’s sick, a key solution is for everyone to wear masks.

The phased opening of South Africa’s economy and the shift to lockdown level 4 from 01 May 2020 will result in the increased movement of people. The rapid spread of infection is inevitable, unless we step up our shared prevention efforts. Take action now to save lives and restore the local and global economy!

the story so far…

The George Hospital Occupational Therapy Department and Speech Therapy Department started a campaign in March 2020 to get cloth masks manufactured and donated by community. They researched and provided guidelines on which fabrics and patterns to use. The response from the George community has been overwhelming. Individuals, community organisations, church groups and NPOs have all contributed, either by sewing masks, or by donating materials and funds. Thanks to these selfless efforts the hospital has received and distributed over 5000 masks to date. Some masks have been made by volunteers, while others have been manufactured by NPOs as part of a community upliftment project to create employment.

We want to thank all those who’ve donated their time and effort in sewing masks and are continuing to volunteer. We applaud and thank everyone for their generosity and tremendous sense of community spirit. Because of your efforts, cloth masks could be issued to patients and mothers in the George Regional Hospital children’s ward. Now, more than ever, we need volunteers to sew and donate masks.

The George Hospital Trust joined the George Regional Hospital staff in this fight by donating the first R100 000 to the #masks4george campaign. This money will go towards the rapid upscaling of the manufacturing and distribution of cloth masks to the most vulnerable members of the population in George. In addition, the George Hospital Staff and Health Facility Board have already raised a further R60 000.00 towards the #masks4george project.

Help us to supply & distribute 100 000 masks to the most vulnerable communities in George

The #masks4george project was initiated by the George Hospital staff to control the spread of COVID-19 disease through the rapid upscaling of the manufacturing and distribution of cloth masks to the most vulnerable members of the population in George.

The project is a partnership with various NPOs and community organisations to manufacture and distribute cloth masks to those who need them most. By working together and pooling our efforts, we can ensure that all masks are made according to appropriate quality standards, using a specification endorsed by the University of Stellenbosch.

“Community upliftment through creating jobs and stimulating local economy”

An important objective of #masks4george is stimulating the local economy. By partnering with NPOs, we are directly helping to create jobs in George, helping to feed families, uplifting communities and directly contributing to local economic development.
#masks4george also provides a platform to communicate important public health messages, create awareness and reinforce the importance of correct mask wearing. With so much information being communicated every day, it can be overwhelming. George Hospital doctors and nurses will share the most appropriate and important advice to help protect our community.

The project is a local response to the government’s risk adjusted approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Western Cape has become the epicentre of the pandemic, recording the highest number of infections in the country. However, the incidence in Garden Route is not as high in other parts of the province. “We have an opportunity to intervene by acting quickly and urgently implement the necessary safety measures, such as wearing masks, to safely re-establish local economic activity and help avoid a return to hard lockdown” Michael Vonk (George Hospital CEO)
The project is in line with the mission of the George Hospital Trust to address re-development programmes, meeting the critical need of its population of patients to supply supporting essential services and equipment. When approached by the hospital staff it was a natural decision for the Trust to get involved and actively support the project.

#masks4george is part of a global campaign #masks4all that started the movement for people and Governments to follow the growing scientific evidence that shows we need to wear homemade masks in public to slow COVID-19.

How can I help?

  • Making a donation, from as little as R15.00 you can provide a mask to someone in need!
  • Spread the word! Follow the social media links, share, like and comment.
  • Start Sewing! Any volunteer who has a sewing machine and cloth is welcome donate masks made to the same standards.
  • Corporates who Care! Businesses, and organisations who want to make a monetary donation or donate masks can do so. The George Hospital Trust was established to be able to receive Section 18A (PBO) donor deductible contributions.
  • Start a project in your community, e.g. #masks4knysna, #masks4mosselbay, #mask4plett, #masks4oudtshoorn, etc. We’d love to help share our experiences and ideas.
    Please contact masks@georgehospitaltrust.co.za for more information. 

Masks can be dropped off at George Hospital, which will ensure the distribution to those in need.

Masks collected by #masks4george will never be sold, only donated.


Donations for the George Hospital Trust, #masks4george initiative can be made to:
Account Name: George Hospital Facility Board
Bank: Absa
Account number: 890400043
Account type: Current
Branch code: 632005

Please use reference mask. Proof of payment can be submitted to Secretary to the Trust, Claudine Harding at  secretary@georgehospitaltrust.co.za

Why wear a mask?

When you speak, tiny micro droplets are ejected from your mouth. If you’re infectious, these could contain virus particles. Coughing and sneezing generate bigger droplets which contain more virus. It is much easier to block droplets with a mask just as they come out of your mouth and/or nose, when they are still larger and less spread out, compared to blocking smaller, more deeply penetrating or invasive droplets as they approach the face of a non-infected person.

“The available evidence suggests that near-universal adoption of non-medical masks when out in public, in combination with complementary public health measures could successfully reduce the spread of the virus. We recommend the adoption of public cloth mask wearing, as an effective form of source control, in conjunction with existing hand hygiene, distancing, and contact tracing strategies. We recommend that public officials and governments strongly encourage the use of widespread face masks in public, including the use of appropriate regulation.” – Face Masks Against COVID-19: An Evidence Review

Which mask should I wear?

Cloth masks
Cloth masks are recommended for use in the community setting by members of the public and non-healthcare workers. A significant portion of individuals with SARS-CoV-2 infection may be preymptomatic or asymptomatic but can still be contagious and spread the virus. Cloth masks together with other measures, social distancing and hand hygiene can help reduce spread of virus (rapidly growing body of scientific evidence).

“Putting a mask on yourself is more to prevent you from infecting someone else. And if everybody does that, we’re each protecting each other.” Dr. Anthony Fauci, U.S. Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (and a world leading expert on infectious diseases).

Wearing Cloth Masks is endorsed by President Cyril Ramaphosa, the National Department of Health, the Western Cape Government and George Hospital.

N95 respirators and surgical masks for healthcare workers

The Western Cape Government’s priority is to ensure that front line health workers, who are caring for those with Covid-19, have the required N95 respirators and surgical masks so that they are protected when undertaking their duties and helping to save lives.

“Increased demand for, and use of, medical masks in the community and by non-health sector workers, threatens the availability of PPE for frontline healthcare workers who are at much higher risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2. Residents should not obtain or use these, so that there are enough for healthcare workers in hospitals and clinics”

There is an acute shortage of medical grade surgical masks and N95 respirators globally. As South Africa enters this global pandemic, the need to reserve personal protective equipment (PPE) for use by healthcare workers (HCWs) is ever increasing. This does not mean healthcare workers matter more than anybody else. When they care for us, they are at much higher risk, so we need to care for them, and everybody around us, by using cloth masks instead.

#masks4george #masks4all


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