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Not only Superheroes wear Masks

Masks are normal. If you walk on the streets of East Asian cities, you’re coming across a familiar picture. Masks everywhere. Are these people all suppressed drones?

Masks, albeit to a lesser extent, were a normal sight even before Corona.

The reason is quite simple. Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, all East Asians wear masks to protect themselves and their fellow human beings. No one is ashamed, no one is horrified. Wearing a mask, you are not perceived as a weirdo.

Masks against viruses

Those who are on the road during flu season, commute in subways or travel in public places teeming with sneezing and coughing people, have long put on a mask when they feel stricken. Why should a sensible person expose himself to an easily preventable disease, thoughtful Chinese wonder, when they see those anti-mask and anti-lockdown demonstrations in Western media.

Is the Western will to harden oneself so pronounced that one wants to come into contact with pathogens of all kinds to strengthen one’s own immune system? Anyone who has ever had severe influenza knows it’s no fun. Viruses and bacteria are transmitted by droplets, among other things.  What could be more obvious than blocking the path of these pathogens by putting on a mask?

Civilized behavior

But a completely different reason is just as often mentioned when talking to passers-by and acquaintances. “I want to protect others,” is the succinct answer. And an astonished gaze of the European is followed by an equally incomprehensible view of the Chinese, how one cannot understand such a thing as natural. No, it is nothing special and certainly nothing heroic to be aware that one’s own actions also affect others.

Role model – far from it

When friends from Europe tell me that politicians preach wearing masks and then walk around topless, when teachers and parents do the same, it is not hard to imagine that the population does not know, what to do. (Yes, I know that there are many sensible people in all countries.)

In China, students and teachers wear masks at school all day and comply with disinfection regulations. At regular intervals, the temperature is measured, and thermal imaging cameras check each individual when entering the premises.

In Germany, as acquaintances tell me, parents rip the mask off their children as soon as they leave the school grounds, out of fear their offspring could collapse.  Some parents seem to believe no one can study while wearing a mask. Similarly, some Europeans in China have a similar attitude as those in Europe. So maybe, there is a deeper cultural reason for this. At the beginning of the outbreak, I read how various supposed (you can no longer call them otherwise) health experts in the West were opposing wearing masks in all seriousness due to their dangerous side effects and alleged uselessness. All the while, here in Asia the virus was already claiming victims en masse. I was close to despair in the face of such ignorance.

It was claimed that the virus was not stopped by masks. Initially, there was little discussion that a reduction in the risk of being infected was already an advantage. And once again, the focus was mainly on self-protection. Not the protection of others from one´s own viruses.

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