i2 International Institute of Education


Wearing Masks

colinflahive (167 posts) • +8

I guess consider this a public service announcement to foreigners living in Kunming. Please wear a mask when you are outside!

Yes, I know there is little scientific evidence that masks are that useful, at least when used how most of us are using them, and they might even help spread contagions more.

But there is something else going on right now. Fear is an irrational emotion and can force irrational decisions, and now the fear has flipped. After finally feeling like we all managed to get through this catastrophe together, the pandemic has reached the rest of the world in the worst possible way. This could easily lead to a backlash against foreigners here. And when people see a foreigner out on the street without a mask it reflects poorly upon the rest of us.

Right now we all need to do our best to walk softly and help with the healing of this country. Making a statement by not wearing a mask does nothing more than increase the level of fear towards foreigners living here, especially those of us running businesses. And with the spread of fake news, this could make things very difficult for all of us.

If nothing else, masks have provided a sense of control for people over something that no one really has much control over. And even if this is only a false sense of control, it doesn't make it any less important.

sezuwupom (37 posts) • 0

I agree with you on mask wearing, however...

colinflahive wrote: "Yes, I know there is little scientific evidence that masks are that useful, at least when used how most of us are using them, and they might even help spread contagions more."

Is the source of this information from the U.S. CDC? They've advised Americans not to wear masks if healthy, but to wear masks only when ill.

As the United States reported 977 new cases and 18 new deaths just yesterday, there are signs that U.S. health officials (e.g. State Dept. of Health) are waking up to the prevalence of asymptomatic cases of transmission. The asymptomatic spreading to 80 contracted attendees of a Biogen tech conference in Massachusetts raised new alarms, though substantial empirical evidence of asymptomatic spreading have already been documented in China, as backed by peer-reviewed studies.

Those who are unknowingly infected yet show no symptoms (asymptomatic), may cough or sneeze viral droplets inside an elevator. Those floating droplets could possibly suspend in air, such that next passengers risk inhaling them. This highlights the importance of mask wearing even if you feel fine.

The point of mask wearing despite feeling healthy is made clear by President Xi as he made victory laps in Wuhan while donning a mask. He is intentionally setting an example to the public at large.

So perhaps no, it is not "only a false sense of control" as some camps in the U.S. would have you believe.

lemon lover (888 posts) • +6

@ Sezuwuprom
It is no sense starting a whole discussion about the effectiveness of face masks and Colin had no intention of doing so but pointed to the other effects wearing masks does have and the perception towards foreigners.
That is the essence of this forum post and not if they are effective.

tigertigerathome (106 posts) • +3

I agree 100% with Colin.
Early on in the outbreak I started wearing a mask, when many in my xiaoqu had not started yet. I was asked by one of my English speaking neighbors, why. My answer was simple. Although the risk of infection was low, if anyone in the xiaoqu had got sick, I believed that they would be looking for people to blame. The fingers would point at the outsider who was not wearing a mask.

JanJal (1077 posts) • +1

It would be nice if everyone had access to as many masks as they want, or the healthcare that they want, the education that they want, or the food that they want.

In this picture what is common among all states, whether western, asian or african, is that when something is not economically or practically viable, they start adjusting what people should want.

Costs financial or other are a heavy constrain.

YaXu5 (14 posts) • 0

"I believed that they would be looking for people to blame. The fingers would point at the outsider who was not wearing a mask."

Disagree. In January, the group that Kunmingers feared most were those from Hubei. Wuhan citizens were fearfully discriminated against the most across China. Caucasian foreigners were the least of people's concern. To presume locals were looking to blame you first would be a misunderstanding, if not reasons outside race.

michael2015 (706 posts) • +1

For the record:

These protect others (such as patients) from most airborne infections from the wearer. That's why they wear them in surgery, to reduce the risk to patients from airborne contaminants from the surgical team.

These look like masks but are soft shelled form fitting appliances. These are designed to protect the wearer (for a limited time) from airborne pollutants and in some cases, airborne biohazards susceptible to the filtration specs of the respirator.
The US CDC makes up rules for US society but they're not necessarily applicable to other nations. Asia and specifically China has a population density of about 146 people/km2 while the USA has a population density of about 35/km2. Higher population density means higher risk of exposure. Think one person in the room (USA) vs FIVE people in the same room (China). The CDC comments were specifically designed to prevent a run on critical hospital supplies as frequently happens in china. Remember the iodized salt run several years ago when Japan had its first nuclear power plant meltdown?

So I personally agree and support Colin's appeal to continue to wear face masks or respirators in public - both for personal safety, public safety, and probably most importantly - for the optics, until the quarantines can complete their task of effectively containing and suppressing this pandemic and any attempts at resurgence.

Liumingke1234 (3297 posts) • +1

As an added benefit people are spitting less because of the masks. :-).

DanDare (103 posts) • +1

@yaxusezuwupom or whatever alias of the day you are using. In January the people from hubei were the outsiders in their midst. Every culture blames outsiders. Colin is right, especially now there is a backflow of cases, foreigners will be the outsider under the spotlight.

BoJoke (22 posts) • 0

As both Dan and Michael pointed out, the U.S. CDC needs to protect mask supplies for healthcare workers due to dearth supply. Even the U.S. emergency stockpile of respirators in national storage reserve won't be enough if cases mount and hospitals become overwhelmed, according medical associations.

To be more precise, patients in critical conditions may need treatments that require tracheal intubation. During this medical procedure, the aerosolization of the Covid-19 virus are high risk contagion factors for medical workers in negative pressure chambers. That is why doctors and nurses need tightly fitted respirators (N95) to protect them as oppose to water-resistant surgical masks that leave vulnerable openings on both sides.

Medical workers in such high risk environments need them more than regular civilians. However, that doesn't imply respirators and surgical masks offer us only a "false sense of control" when exposed to viral droplets expelled by sneezes and coughs.

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