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Old  English A Surgeon's Perspective on Masks for All
With SARS-Co-V2 and COVID-19 turning the entire world upside down, we as human beings have to do everything we possibly can to prevent its spread. We talk about proper handwashing, respiratory etiquette, physical distancing and other methods to slow the spread of this virus down.

What I’m going to talk about now is a bit controversial, but I feel there’s enough data to support the claims that I am making. The question I want to ask is very simple - What if everybody in the world wore a mask? Could we slow down the spread of COVID-19?

Let’s talk about masks. Why do we wear them? Is there any data behind wearing them?

we’re finding out from South Korean data that about 30% of people with COVID-19 are asymptomatic. That means they have no symptoms at all. If you turn your attention to Iceland, where they do some of the most widespread testing in the world, an estimated 50% of positive people have no symptoms. Usually these are our younger people, and it is these people that are thought to be spreading the virus. They are out and about, moving around because they feel fine And have no symptoms whatsoever.

At the start of COVID-19, Taiwan quickly mobilized and instituted specific approaches to protect public health. One of the things they did was they took an active role in resource allocation. They quickly ramped up mask production to 10 million masks per day, and they had a huge stockpile of both surgical masks and N 95s. The last thing they did was set a price for masks – so there was no price gouging, unlike what is happening in Europe and the US. They had daily press briefings where they reviewed when and where to wear a mask, the importance of handwashing, and the danger of hoarding masks.

Lastly, let’s look at the Czech Republic. This is an interesting example because it is a western country. With the help of social media influencers, and the #MasksForAll,
They were able to change the culture in their country in regards to mask wearing. They started a campaign with a slogan “ your mask protects me, my mask protects you.“ everybody started sewing masks at home. within DAYS the culture was changed. It became compulsory to wear a mask when leaving the house, and nowadays, socially, it is frowned upon NOT to wear a mask when you are out and about. And if you look at the rate of new cases in the Czech Republic versus other countries like Italy or the US, it appears that this has been flattening the curve.

That being said, why are very few people in Western countries wearing masks? A lot of it is cultural. people in places like Hong Kong wear a mask as a courtesy, to protect other people from their respiratory secretions. In westernized countries like the United States, masks are used to cover the mouth of sick individuals, to prevent infectious droplets from spreading. In a way, western countries create a stigma when it comes to mask wearing. Masks only for the sick. We need to end that stigma. There are so many people in the world today that are at high risk for contracting COVID-19. These people should be wearing masks. Another group of people who should be wearing masks are people with COVID-19. But -, if 30-50% of people who have COVID-19 have no symptoms, how do we spot that group of people?

Not wearing a mask in the US is cultural. But culture can change. Look at the Czeck republic - they went from “look at that idiot wearing a mask” to “look at that idiot NOT wearing a mask” in two days. It can be done.

A universal mask policy will slow down the spread of coronavirus throughout the world. the Czech Republic is a perfect example of this. COVID-19 has turned the world entirely upside down, not much is the same anymore. Things change. Maybe one thing that should also change is our opinions about mask wearing. Many of us in the world are already being selfless in the fact that we are staying at home under lockdown. Let’s extend that selfless attitude towards adopting mask wearing. Let’s wear masks to protect others. If we do that - maybe, others will wear masks to protect you.



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