In the west, however, although masks sold as quickly as hand sanitizers in pharmacies and online when people stockpiled supplies, there was initially a general reluctance to wear face cloths. public.
The divide was so strong that while racism against people of Asian descent soared, some stopped wearing masks because the face shield had become a hotbed of abuse, discrimination and stigma.
A few weeks later, improvised masks and substitutes are quickly becoming the new norm in cities from New York to Berlin, and those who go out without their noses and mouths covered face censorship or stiffer penalties.
Millions of people are even learning to create their own while waiting for supplies to return to stores around the world.
Adoption was slow because for months scientists and authorities were divided over whether they were helping to slow the spread of the disease. The World Health Organization still recommends their use today by anyone who coughs or sneezes, but says healthy people should only use them if they are caring for someone infected with coronavirus.
It seems increasingly likely that when masks provide an advantage outside of a surgical setting, it is for society as a whole, not for the individual wearing it. Rather than preventing the carrier from contracting an infection, they are more likely to prevent carriers of the virus from spreading it, whether by coughing, sneezing, talking or even yawning.
It is feared that the masks will give a false sense of security, because they do not block all the particles and leave the eyes uncovered and open to infections.
But as the coronavirus crisis continues and governments seek ways out of devastating economic bottlenecks, they are unlikely to disappear anytime soon. Here is how different countries have regulated the supply of masks and the wearing of masks in their fight against coronaviruses.
The Czech Republic was the first country in Europe to make face covering compulsory in public, with a decree in mid-March. To set an example for the public, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and other politicians addressed Parliament and appeared on television with masks. The government said the policy had helped slow the spread of the disease and brought the epidemic under control with a relatively small number of victims.
Anticipating high demand, Taiwan began rationing the masks in January, giving everyone a weekly allowance that they could buy at designated pharmacies. The country has also invested millions in the creation of new mask-making capabilities, expanding so much that it quota for Taiwanese living abroadand started to mask some of the coronavirus hot spots.
There is no legal requirement to wear a mask, but due to the experience of experiencing the Sars epidemic, people are used to wearing them in crowded places.
On April 15, Angela Merkel recommended that people wear masks, and since then the 16 German states have made it mandatory in public transport and when shopping. Masks can also include any type of facial covering, such as scarves or bandanas. Most cities, however, said they would not actually enforce the rules or impose fines because they did not have enough staff.
The eastern city of Jena was the first to make it mandatory to wear a mask and received a very positive response. Mayor Christian Gerlitz said “99% of the population sticks to the rules”.
Masks are not necessary, but the government advises people to wear them on public transport and in situations where social distancing is difficult, and began to distribute them when it eased restrictions on non-essential workers. There have also been supply issues; defective masks from a Chinese company forced 1,000 health workers to be isolated for fear of being infected with the virus.
In early April, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention canceled months of official insistence that healthy people don’t need to wear masks and recommended everyone to wear masks non-medical in public. A national shortage of masks means it is almost impossible to buy them, which has sparked interest in sewing across the country as people try to make their own place.
President Donald Trump said the directives were voluntary and that he would not cover his face, although his wife Melania shared a photo of her wearing a mask and encouraged others to do so. Other officials have warned that face covers should not replace hand washing and social distancing.
The wearing of masks is common in Japan, but as the country intensified its fight against the pandemic, it announced at the beginning of this month that it would provide each household with two washable and reusable masks at a cost to the nation of 350 million pound sterling. The effort was marred by complaints about mold, insects and stains, with the government forced to replace some of the face covers, Reuters reported. Electronics company Sharp has halted online sales of masks until further notice after its website crashed due to overwhelming demand.
The masks have been worn in public by the majority of the people of Hong Kong since the start of the epidemic. Their use has been supported, but not mandated, by the government. There has been some tension over the reluctance of many members of the city’s large expatriate community to cover their faces, and some health experts are now asking that camouflage be made compulsory.
Despite efforts to fight the virus, authorities have dubbed an “anti-masking ban” imposed last year to try to stop the city’s multi-month protest movement.