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St. John’s teenager creates ‘COVID cap’ to help keep your face hands-free

Farha models her new invention.
Farha models her new invention. - Contributed
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

Some may have forgotten one of the earliest warnings issued to help curb the spread of COVID-19: stop touching your face.

It even made for a couple of comical moments as health officials were caught ignoring their own advice.

During a Friday news conference in early March, Sara Cody, public health director for Santa Clara County, Calif., told the public to “start working on not touching your face.”



“Less than a minute later, she raised hand to mouth and licked her finger to turn a page in her notes,” The Washington Post later reported. “As of early Thursday, almost 4.5 million people had watched the clip shared on Twitter.

Touching your face can still be risky even while wearing a mask.

But a high school student in Newfoundland and Labrador may have the solution.

Farha Fazal just started at Holy Heart High School in St. John’s this month. The 15-year-old and her mother, Hajira Nusret, recently moved to the city from india. Nusret is doing a master’s degree at Memorial University.

Farha’s invention is a brimmed cap that sets off a warning beep when your hands come too close.

She says she got the idea from her uncle, a doctor in India who has to work in a medical facility in a country with a high rate of coronavirus infection.

“I wanted to make something that’s helpful for him,” she said Thursday.

“It is a cap with an ultrasonic sensor in the front and there’s a buzzer near the ear. When you put your hand near your face, the sensor sends a signal to the buzzer.”

The high-pitched beep is not loud, so only the wearer hears it.

The cap even comes with a plastic face shield attached for those who have trouble wearing a mask.

Farha says she is interested in science, and has done similar projects for school, but this is the first time she has done something that has a useful purpose.

“COVID-19 is something that really inspired me.”

Farha’s mother says her daughter is active on a number of fronts.

“She has a YouTube channel. … And also she has a blog. She’s a very good writer,” she said.

Farha says she hopes to have a video on her site soon explaining how she made the cap.

Her YouTube channel can be found at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmbK0n-3ZhvmZ0Mq5o2UF8g.

Her blog in online at https://farhaemail.wixsite.com/website/blog/.

Peter Jackson is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering health for The Telegram

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