All about face masks

sunday
TOI masthead on Sunday

After all the controversy about face masks (you can read about the WHO point of view in April 2020 here, that says that healthy people need not wear masks), it is quite clear that face masks play a major role in reducing the spread of Covid-19, for everyone.

The masks do not have to be fancy or complex or expensive. Just functional. If they are washable and reusable, it’s a welcome bonus for the municipality’s waste management machinery that has been overly burdened these past few months.

Most importantly, the masks should be worn properly for maximum utility. Masks that hang around the neck are akin to helmets that hang on the riders’ arms.

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Face masks in the time of COVID-19

In the current days of COVID-19, one of the items in high demand is face masks. After all, a virus that transmits through droplets and attacks the lungs, would be best kept out if your nose and mouth are covered.

While the N95 face mask is touted as having good filtering efficiency, the commonly available face masks are not fool-proof. This means that they are not a guarantee against the virus, but they obviously would offer some protection to you (if you are well), and to others (if you are unwell), rather than nothing at all.

Face masks are an integral part of Japanese life. It is common to see people of all ages, on the streets and on public transport, wearing a mask if they have a cold or cough. It is not so much for themselves as for the people they come in contact with. The intention is not to pass whatever infection they have to anyone else.

Tokyo man with mask
Tokyo, November 2012

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