As the Covid-19 pandemic continues unabated, most Hongkongers are still covering their faces with masks as they go about their lives. A sensible precaution or panicked overreaction? Boase Cohen & Collins Associate Kristie Wong considers the arguments.
Hong Kong, 20 March 2020: The outbreak and spread of the coronavirus all over the world has triggered a high level of anxiety, leading to stockpiling and panic buying of not only surgical masks and disinfectants, but also groceries and even tissue paper. People are seen queuing in line outside drugstores overnight just to buy face masks while places such as Macau, Singapore and South Korea have distributed masks to residents in order to ensure a regular supply.
While it is generally advised by the Centre for Health Protection here in Hong Kong to wear a mask in public places to prevent the spread of the virus, many infectious disease experts and specialists overseas have unequivocally stated that wearing a surgical mask is not effective in preventing the general public from catching Covid-19 and only those with respiratory symptoms should do so. Some have even gone so far as to say Asians wear masks in public for the reassuring effect on one another, a habit which is culturally driven. Is mask wearing more a social/cultural practice than an informed decision with scientific support?
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