Masks, a symbol of good hygiene

Foreign Desk Report

LONDON: Many Westerners have reportedly felt “shocked” when seeing Asians wear face masks on the streets as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic grips the world. In fact, the phenomenon has exposed how high cultural and social barriers remain in the globalized era.
For many people from Asian countries, wearing face masks is regarded as a way to help curb the spread of the new virus.
They believe it is a responsible gesture symbolizing good hygiene and social responsibility, which shows that you are not only willing to protect yourself, but also others.
However, many Western people have shunned the idea of wearing surgical masks in their daily lives, although the number of COVID-19 cases is rising. In their eyes, wearing surgical masks means either you are ill or a medical worker.
While several health organizations have said that wearing face masks is only necessary for people who are coughing or sneezing or having a fever to prevent spreading an airborne virus, experience has shown that many people infected with COVID-19 exhibit mild or even no symptoms, a reality that makes wearing a face mask an even more complicated issue.
Sadly, different opinions on the usefulness of the masks have fuelled racism and discrimination, especially targeting mask-wearing Asians, in some Western countries. Some people would rather simply criticize than analyze why a growing number of Asians choose to wear face masks amid the pandemic.
Besides wearing face masks, other measures like lockdown strategies taken by Asian countries seem “alien” to many Westerners. But with the death toll from COVID-19 rising in Europe and China’s anti-virus methods proving effective — of course, thanks to sacrifices on the part of Chinese citizens — both lockdowns and wearing face masks may eventually no longer appear that bizarre and over the top.
Instead of pressuring those who wear face masks in the West, it is high time that face masks are recognized for what they are a symbol of good hygiene and collective responsibility in the tough joint battle against a pandemic.