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To Wear a Mask or Not

If your country does not promote wearing masks as a public safety protocol, I feel okay about it and respect that. But why the choice of wearing one is not respected? We are now in the fourth month dealing with the virus. More and more people are starting to understand that Coronavirus is not just common flu.

Story by Kate Tang
Hong Kong, Eastern Asia
Published on April 9, 2020

Reading time: 4 minutes



Listen to this story:


I remember when I was 5, Hong Kong went through the outbreak of SARS. Within 6 months, a total of 1750 cases had been identified and 300 people died of the disease. Later, SARS became one of the biggest pandemics disease in the world.[1]

17 years later, today, Coronavirus is the new SARS. Every day is like re-living that horror 17 years ago, every increase of identified cases and death makes us cringe and anxious. Once again the city fell into a panic, shelves cleared of daily essentials. We dare not to wash and clean nor to not wear surgical masks if we need to go out. People voluntarily self-quarantined without any regulation from the government.

One of my friends from Northern Europe said they had never experienced this kind of pandemic before. They thought the Coronavirus is a common flu and I said, “We already did all the precautions that we can do. We are just shocked by what we have learned from SARS.” I don’t know if I should call us ‘lucky’ but it is because of the unfortunate experience we had that made us more alert and has a better social response to handle today’s virus outbreak.

Just when I thought Hong Kong was doing well bracing ourselves from this pandemic, I heard unpleasant stories about Asians who were being discriminated against in countries outside Asia because of their race, and because they were wearing a mask. A friend of mine who was studying abroad in a small town near Frankfurt, Germany, was called out and threatened on the street because she was wearing a mask. I was devastated. Apparently, Coronavirus is more than a health hazard. It has stirred social issues among races in several countries. It is not wrong to wear a mask on the streets during a virus epidemic. It is not wrong to be an Asian in a foreign country. But why are my friends targeted, or even humiliated?

If your country does not promote wearing masks as a public safety protocol, I feel okay about it and respect that. But why the choice of wearing one is not respected? We are now in the fourth month dealing with the virus. More and more people are starting to understand that Coronavirus is not just common flu. As the situation degenerates, people are starting to realize the importance of social distancing and the effectiveness of masks in preventing the spreading of the virus.

However, medics and hospitals all over the world are under extreme pressure and facing a shortage of medical appliances. There are not enough surgical masks for everyone. So naturally, they would be reserved for medical staff. With them risking their own lives to take control of the situation, it is our job to do any possible precautions to stop the virus from spreading. When you really need to go out and you don’t have a mask, wear something covering your nose and mouth. It can be made of cloth, it can be a bra, it can be a scarf, as long as you wash it every single time you went out with it. Boycott the virus, not people with masks!

17 years ago, Hong Kong fought 6 months through SARS. During those 4 months, people were in despair and fear. Some thought that it was the end of Hong Kong. But eventually, SARS died out and life returned to the city and bloomed. 2020 may have been a sucky year, but together, taking this COVID-19 epidemic seriously, we will regain our freedom and enjoy clean air that we have taken for granted for too long. 


Footnotes

[1] To read more about SARS and what Hong Kong has learned from it, click here.


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Kate Tang

Kate Tang

Hi, my name is Kate. A girl studying visual arts in Hong Kong. I am so proud to introduce myself as a Hongkonger here and tell the world about this tiny little spot on the map. I am not a political person, but I hope to tell the world that Hong Kong isn’t just another small city in China, and what we are and have is special and different. The world is too big to stay in one place. Be adventurous.

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