Thursday 24 June 2021

To mask or not to mask: confusion spreads over coronavirus protection

(Reuters) – “Do not wear a mask if you are well” read a warning plastered across the front of Singapore’s main newspaper on Friday, as authorities around the world sought to calm panic buying of masks seen as a guard against the fast-spreading coronavirus.

A sign is posted on a medical supply store that says surgical and N95 masks are already out of stock, in Manila, Philippines, January 31, 2020. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

In neighboring Malaysia, the government urged people to always have masks and hand sanitizers ready, similar to advice by authorities in Thailand and Vietnam.

- Advertisement -

Conflicting messages have sowed confusion over how to protect against an epidemic that has claimed over 200 lives in China and spread to over 20 countries, with some experts saying wrong handling of masks could even increase infection risk.

“Wearing a mask only when u feel unwell? Then why do u need soldiers when there isn’t war? It’s better to be safe than sorry” Facebook user Kenny Chan Wai Kong posted in Singapore, where authorities have announced plans to give four masks to every household as retailers’ stocks run dry across the island.

In parts of Asia, wearing face masks is common when people are sick or to counter urban pollution.

Official guidance from the World Health Organisation and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention makes no mention of wearing a face mask as a preventative measure against the virus – but their websites do not specifically advise against them.

- Advertisement -

Australia and Taiwan have said healthy people don’t need masks, but Australia has released 1 million masks from the national medical stockpile, and masks are widely worn in Taiwan’s capital Taipei where the government has imposed purchase limits and an export ban on masks.

The Taiwan Railway Administration said on Friday that if the virus continues to spread it will refuse to carry passengers not wearing masks.

MASKS MUST BE FITTED CORRECTLY

Coronavirus can be transmitted from person to person, although it is not clear how easily. Most cases have been in people who have been in the Chinese city of Wuhan at the center of the outbreak, family members of those infected, or medical workers.

Transmission is likely through contact with an infected person via particles in the air from coughing or sneezing, or by someone touching an infected person or object with the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes.

“Situations that require a mask are when you are in a crowd…or if you are caring for a sick person. If it makes you feel better, wear a surgical mask,” Angela Rasmussen, virologist at the Center for Infection & Immunity at Columbia University said on the Reuters Global Markets Forum.

Other experts have said disposable surgical masks may not fit the face tightly enough to prevent infection, while some have pointed out that wrong handling of masks such as touching the front could increase the likelihood of infection spread.

- Advertisement -

In Hong Kong, a lawmaker who chairs the city’s government health services panel was slammed over a short video she posted showing people how to steam and re-use disposable face masks.

More unusual advice has seen India’s government suggest a traditional concoction that includes ginger and holy basil as virus protection, while a Myanmar minister was rebuked for sharing a Facebook post that advised people to eat more onions.

Some overseas Chinese have been buying masks to send to friends and relatives in China, where some stocks have been running out. Chinese citizens living in Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia sent 150,000 masks back to their home province of Gansu on Thursday, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.

In China, where nearly 10,000 cases have been reported so far, Zunyou Wu, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told state broadcaster that people need to wear masks when taking public transport.

Reporting by John Geddie, Aradhana Aravindan and Keith Zhai in Singapore, Joseph Sipalan in Kuala Lumpur, Khahn Vu in Hanoi, Jiraporn Kuhakan and Panu Wongcha-um in Bangkok, Ben Blanchard in Taipei, Anne Marie Roantree in Hong Kong, Euan Roche in Mumbai, Thu Thu Aung in Yangon and Jonathan Barrett in Sydney; Writing by John Geddie; Editing by Michael Perry

- Advertisement -

FACT CHECK:
We strive for accuracy in its reports. But if you see something that doesn’t look right, send us an email. The Q reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it’s accuracy.

Related Articles

Peru receives first batch of Chinese COVID-19 vaccine

Q24N - The first batch of vaccines produced by China’s Sinopharm...

WHO team visits Wuhan wet market to find COVID clues

A World Health Organization (WHO) team tracing the origins of COVID-19...

MOST READ

Facts and Career Opportunities for Positioning and Popularity of a Casino Dealer

Are you thinking about becoming a casino dealer? If you’re a Hungarian citizen, we’ll tell you more about what you need to know. You...

Flight paralysis from Canada hits Costa Rica’s tourism

QCOSTARICA - The paralysis of flights from Canada last January hit Costa Rica's tourism sector, as Canada was the second source market for tourists...

Today’s Vehicle Restriction June 20: only “EVENS” can circulate

Today, Sunday, June 20, only vehicles with "EVEN" ending plates CAN circulate The measure is countrywide and applied between 5:00 am and 9:00 pm, save...

Germany opens borders to Ticos from this Friday!

QCOSTARICA - Good news for Ticos with traveling fever! From Friday, June 25, Germany will allow entry of travelers from Costa Rica as long...

Pandemic reinforces the Costa Rica’s attractiveness as a global destination for wellness tourism

QCOSTARICA - The pandemic caused by Covid-19 fuels the strategy of positioning Costa Rica as a world destination to develop wellness tourism, since travelers...

Today’s Covid News: Average daily deaths from Covid-19 begins to decline

QCOSTARICA - The week of June 13 to 19 registered a decrease in the average number of deaths due to Covid-19, when 20 daily...

Today’s Vehicle Restriction June 19: only “ODDS” can circulate

Today, Saturday, June 19, only vehicles with "ODD" ending plates CAN circulate The measure is countrywide and applied between 5:00 am and 9:00 pm, save...

Today’s Vehicle Restriction June 22: plates ending in 3 & 4 CANNOT circulate

Today, Tuesday, June 22, plates ending in 3 & 4 CANNOT circulate. The measure is countrywide and applied between 5:00 am and 9:00 pm, save...

First five months of the year reflect recovery of Costa Rican exports

QCOSTARICA - The value of Costa Rica exports increased by 23% in the first five months of the year, being the highest growth in...

WANT TO STAY UP TO DATE WITH THE LATEST!

Get our daily newsletter with the latest posts directly in your mailbox. Click on the subscribe and fill out the form. It's that simple!

Log In

Forgot password?

Forgot password?

Enter your account data and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Your password reset link appears to be invalid or expired.

Log in

Privacy Policy

Add to Collection

No Collections

Here you'll find all collections you've created before.