COVID-19 INFORMATION What you need to know about the coronavirus if you are living in Japan or planning a visit.

Voices
in
Japan

have your say

Why is there so much disagreement about the effectiveness of wearing face masks to stop the spread of viruses?

29 Comments

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

29 Comments
Login to comment

There is no disagreement among the informed, they don't work. The only disagreement comes from the ignorant and politicians!

17 ( +20 / -3 )

There is a small amount of protection that masks give but if you don’t get everything else right they are pretty much useless. It's a bit like standing behind a tree in a hurricane.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

Your mouth and nose are only two of the many places where infection can enter your body. People usually forget that you can also get infected by touching your eyes with dirty hands.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

In East Asia it is pretty much a cultural thing instilled by parents, schools, family doctors, and gov't. Science is pretty much pushed aside in favor of "This is (insert East Asian nation) and this is how we do things."

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Little to no effect.

Those masks help a little as to people not infecting others with something like the flu.

Concerning receiving those "bugs" ...... no chance that a mask will prevent this.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

There is disagreement because the science generally says that masks are ineffective, while people feel comforted by a publicly visible display.

People feel a need to virtue signal, to show to others that they are doing something good. Too often, that public signalling is counterproductive. Masks are a prime example.

For children, especially, masks are a disaster. Parents go ahead and send sick kids to school on the faulty rationale that they're no risk to others because they're wearing masks. Kids don't wash their hand well enough or frequently enough to make any difference, and masks cause them to touch their faces much more often than they normally would to adjust the annoying things. By causing more face touching and giving a false sense of safety, the masks can ultimately increase the spread of disease.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

For children, especially, masks are a disaster. Parents go ahead and send sick kids to school on the faulty rationale that they're no risk to others because they're wearing masks.

That doesn't mean that masks don't work, that means that they are being used improperly. Fixing that requires education on how to properly use masks, not getting rid of masks altogether.

I asked my doctor at the start of all of this, and he was clear that using a mask was simply one means of protecting yourself from viruses, along with washing your hands and not touching your eyes. People on the internet keep telling me otherwise, but unlike them, he's an actual doctor.

-6 ( +7 / -13 )

There would be a few possible reasons. First, wearing face mask might makes a person feel fully enough protected from virus, so this lacks cares for the other measures against it. Second, most Japanese, especially younger generations, think that face masks are for protecting the disease from getting caught, rather than for not spreading one's own virus or germs. The misunderstanding of the use and purpose of face mask hinders the measures of the virus infection. Finally, many of us still might be optimistic to the virus as threat, because it is not considered as fatal for less than 60s.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

They don't work. No one should be told to use them. Yesterday two companies in the UK selling these masks were reprimanded had their advertisements banned as they falsely claim masks can help preventbrhe spread of the coronavirus. As there is no proof or evidence of any kind that this is true the companies were being fraudulent.

Today loads of stuff on breakfast telly about masks and the shortage of maks and nothing on handwashing.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Yesterday PM Bozo demonstrated how to wash your hands.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

First, wearing face mask might makes a person feel fully enough protected from virus, so this lacks cares for the other measures against it.

Which again is incorrect usage of a mask. This deserves education, not scrapping of masks.

Second, most Japanese, especially younger generations, think that face masks are for protecting the disease from getting caught, rather than for not spreading one's own virus or germs.

They are. They provide a layer of protection against viruses. Again though, I'm going off the words of my doctor friend.

-8 ( +4 / -12 )

It's probably quite effective when trying to hide from Facial Recognition Software connected to cctv.

Only possible way to knows is to wear it and join conversation with room full of infected.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Only possible way to knows is to wear it and join conversation with room full of infected.

Why would you do that? While masks are part of the toolkit against preventing an infection, no one has ever claimed they're 100% effective, and going into a room full of infected people, even while wearing a mask, doesn't seem like a prudent decision to make unless one is a professional, and is willing to potentially catch the disease.

I just can't see any reason someone would want to test a mask in this manner.

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

I keep hearing if you are healthy don't wear masks. But if you are sick, they can help prevent the spread of the virus to others. Then the warning goes on not to hoard masks as they are necessary for health care workers, like nurses and doctors to use to protect them from sick people.

So nurses and doctors are not sick, but they use them to protect themselves from sick people, but if Joe average uses the masks they don't work to protect them.

Does anybody see the discrepancy in this logic? And before someone says, they are talking about the N95 masks, no they aren't! They are talking about the kind of masks you can buy( or could buy) at any Japanese pharmacy or drug store.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

I think the reasons so many people in Japan wear masks arises from social conformity (this is just what you do in the winter) and good marketing by the mask makers. They suggest that it protects from viruses and pollen. On the other hand, scientific studies recommending wearing masks are lacking in my opinion. I think a similar phenomenon can be found in taking certain supplements. The makers suggest certain effects, but the science is usually lacking.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Does anybody see the discrepancy in this logic?

Yes. It is strange. Perhaps a factor is that we can assume that health workers change their masks frequently.

One question I have is about the shape of the masks. The typical mask we see in Japan lies flat against the nose and mouth. But occasionally I see photos of some that are more pointed and leave a space between mask and mouth. I'd assume the pointed ones are more effective as it reduces contact between the mouth and any infected areas on the mask surface. Or am I fooling myself?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Strangerland-san, masks are not effective against viruses. This is from the CDC website. And as for your doctors, I have agreement on the ineffectiveness of the common paper masks from two doctors I know personally. One of them is my sister, a world-renown expert on infectious diseases and clinical trials. In other words, exactly what the C19 is all about. Ask your own doctors more closely on this statement, as it seems to be a bit irresponsible.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Why?

Because everyone's an expert.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Masks can keep someone from inadvertently touching their mouth or nose at times between washing their hands.

It's easy to wear a mask, so why not reduce the chance, even a little bit?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Strangerland, sorry but your Doc friend is wrong, as has been repeatedly reiterated by numerous doctors, health professionals and virologists. There is a possible benefit in their preventing touching of the face but that is wholly dependent on proper useage, which all too often is lacking. A greater hazard is the false sense of security engended by wearing the things.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

There wouldn't be any "disagreement" if Japan didnt insist on promoting masks, in the face of scientific evidence pointing to their ineffectiveness for healthy members of the public in social environments.

in Japan the masks are most often used to mark people who go to their office of school with a cold or fever...which they shouldn't be doing... and as a wa-building exercise.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Why is there so much disagreement about the effectiveness of wearing face masks to stop the spread of viruses?

one of the ( many ) reasons is because we see doctors wearing masks all the time and ( some ) people get the idea that masks somehow protect us against pretty much everything ... another reason is that some Asian countries are always promoting the use of masks and in some cases ( Japan included ) it ,s already part of their culture and some people even wear masks ( just ) for fashion purposes ...

another thing ... people are always putting their ( dirty ) hands ( etc ) on their pockets and then they put their masks on those same pockets ( because we can,t wear masks 24 hours a day, right? ) , and then they wear the mask again ... disgusting, right? people need to careful ... wearing a mask is not as simple as it seems ... no wonder why some people say : if you,re healthy, don,t wear a mask, or wear it properly. we might feel protected but feeling it and actually being protected are two different things ...

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Yesterday, attended my local nearest hospital. Most of the staff were wearing masks but very few of the patients. Even the doctor I needed to see wasn't wearing a mask.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

to be careful *

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Seems that for many people if something is not 100% effective then it must be 0% effective. I think the effectiveness lies somewhere in between, 40% perhaps.

BTW, every time I see a doctor, they always have a mask on...

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@Strangerland

According to many DOCTORS, including the World Health Organisation, common white masks offer limited protection from coughs, sneezes and other moisture or "skin contact" (touching your face)methods of viral contamination. Such masks offer ZERO protection from airborne viruses.

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not currently recommend that people in the U.S. wear face masks in public to prevent infection. Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters during a press call on Thursday that the best preventative measures include washing hands and covering coughs...

...Wearing surgical masks does not prevent a person from inhaling smaller airborne particles; they are not considered respiratory protection by the CDC. Surgical masks are also loose fitting, and when the wearer inhales, there is potential for particles to leak in or out of the sides."

(Source: - Time Magazine)

One check your facts before spreading misinformation.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

According to many DOCTORS, including the World Health Organisation, common white masks offer limited protection from coughs, sneezes and other moisture or "skin contact" (touching your face)methods of viral contamination. Such masks offer ZERO protection from airborne viruses.

I think "limited protection" equals "some protection". I don't see that Strangerland is spreading misinformation.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

According to many DOCTORS, including the World Health Organisation, common white masks offer limited protection from coughs, sneezes and other moisture or "skin contact" (touching your face)methods of viral contamination.

Exactly. They offer "limited protection". You don't think that 'limited' means 'zero' do you? You may want to check a dictionary on that one.

As I've been saying all along (based on what I was told by a doctor), masks are one of the tools in the toolkit of protecting yourself.

It's weird how many people have this wrong idea that because something is not 100% effective, it's 100% ineffective. It says something about their (in-) ability to use logic.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's weird how many people have this wrong idea that because something is not 100% effective, it's 100% ineffective.

It does seem to be the way (with some). I admit my own ignorance on this issue, but it's not hard to see the possible benefits of masks in various situations. Presumably medical staff wear masks (and gloves) because they often deal with bodily fluids spraying all over the place. (Thinking of my dentist drilling a tooth.) I also presume they frequently change the masks (and gloves). Assuming simple masks are little help against airborne viruses, but are somewhat useful against nasty droplets, but shouldn't be allowed to remain in place for prolonged periods, what are the best situations to use them? Walking down the road - probably no. Traveling on a crowded train - possibly yes. Working in a busy office if you have a tendency to touch your face while working - probably yes.

(Personal thoughts only. I am not an expert.)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites