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Masks are everywhere in Asia, but have they helped?

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By Sara Hussein

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Masks actually make things worse, absolutely. Not only does it give the users a sense of false confidence, who still touch things and rub their eyes, it can actually LEAD to spread in other ways as well if a person wearing one constantly takes it off and puts it back on (grabbing the middle, where the moisture is concentrated), constantly adjusting it, etc. Now, don't get me wrong, I believe they are helpful for pollen allergies, and helpful in avoiding spread from people who are symptomatic (as long as they don't do the aforementioned), but for preventing... sorry, people.

-26 ( +17 / -43 )

Of course it can helps, although some persons wear them in a way with no effectiveness.

In the West, there are just not enough to guarantee some for the medical staff, so no ad about it ! Yet.

And costly in the long run.

I heard that washable masks were useless because then the width between fibers was necessarily far over the distance needed to prevent the virus crossing the layer due to the breathing.

1 ( +10 / -9 )

People think wearing a mask will save them and are going everywhere, but they are more likely to touch something and pick it up......Just stay home" Get food and go back home"

4 ( +15 / -11 )

Even if the mask will not prevent infection if it slows the spread and flattens the curve then I think it is very useful. Look at the outrageous situation in NYC now! In my personal case I highly suggest using a humidifier at night during winter and early spring and avoiding crowds.

19 ( +23 / -4 )

You are about to ride a train in Tokyo. There were 2 cars you can get into, one car is packed with passengers with masks on, one car is packed with passengers without masks. You have no mask on yourself. in whichcar will you get in?

30 ( +36 / -6 )

If masks are good enough for healthcare workers, they are good for the public as well. Of course hoarding is bad but health care workers usually get different masks that what is available in the stores. Sure washing loosens the fibers, but since the virus is mainly passed on through sneeze droplets and coughing, and since humans can't create an aerosolized virus you shouldn't worry about getting it from someone's breathing if you are wearing a mask.

7 ( +16 / -9 )

since humans can't create an aerosolized virus

Unfortunately there seems to be evidence now that the virus can spread through aerosols expelled by mere talking or breathing.

Anyway, the masks for healthcare workers are for different purposes. The healthcare workers use them mainly to protect themselves from infection while for us the general public, we should wear them to protect others from infection

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Masks do not help! Masks only decrease the chance of spreading any virus if the wearer has symptoms. And, with COVID-19, if a person has symptoms they should be in hospital, not walking in public spreading the virus.

-22 ( +10 / -32 )

"Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19"

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html

I tend to trust advice from the CDC over internet posters. But it's everyone's own choice.

19 ( +24 / -5 )

Masks do not help! Masks only decrease the chance of spreading any virus if the wearer has symptoms.

Having a bit of trouble with the logic that links those two sentences.

Gary

19 ( +22 / -3 )

Unfortunately there seems to be evidence now that the virus can spread through aerosols expelled by mere talking or breathing.

According to Dr. Jason Persoff, University of Colorado Teaching Hospital who is treating CV19 patients:

"Humans DO NOT aerosolize virus: we transmit it by droplets (more akin to using a spray bottle when watering plants). Influenza was studied in a similar manner back in H1N1 in 2009 and these same findings were demonstrated....if you use a nebulizer, for example, that will easily aerosolize both particles of COVID and flu. But the issue is that most rooms have airflow at all times, and the more airflow you have, there are issues with moisture breakdown and making it harder for viruses to stay viable."

8 ( +9 / -1 )

the users a sense of false confidence, who still touch things and rub their eyes

Yes, but users cannot directly touch their nose or mouth , so two out of three vectors (nose, mouth , eyes) have been removed.

Not 100% efficient, but 66% is better than nothing. Which is amount of protection that no masks offer to touching your face.

gary

16 ( +20 / -4 )

ian: "There were 2 cars you can get into, one car is packed with passengers with masks on, one car is packed with passengers without masks. You have no mask on yourself. in whichcar will you get in?"

In this country? The one with no masks, or I wouldn't ride the train. Period. I DID just ride a train between my last couple of posts and the station near my apartment, and during that time saw a dude in his fifties pull down his mask by pinching the part in front of his mouth, pick his nose, pull out his finger and look at it, pick again, then put his mask back up with the picking finger and put that hand on the rail between the seats. Another old guy sneezed full strength into his mask, adjusted it (again, hand where the moisture would be), and then put his hand back around the handle he was hanging on to (this guy was standing). A couple of young kids hand theirs down around their chins as they chatted loudly, pressed together on the seats. In contrast to that, there were a few people without masks, who sat quietly apart from each other, pretending to sleep or staring at phones.

-19 ( +6 / -25 )

garymalmgren: "Yes, but users cannot directly touch their nose or mouth , so two out of three vectors (nose, mouth , eyes) have been removed."

Half the people who wear masks here constantly raise and lower them to wipe their mouth and/or nose after sneezing into the mask, or to take a drink, or what have you, even they even wear them over their noses to begin with. Here's the article from yesterday:

https://japantoday.com/category/national/Japan-to-give-face-masks-to-50-mil-households-to-fight-virus#comment-2123982

Check out the kid in red in the pic. That's how MANY people wear them. I'm not saying masks canNOT be effective, especially, once again, for people who are symptomatic from spreading it, but the fact is most people here become complacent and the purpose for which they claim to be wearing them if for prevention goes out the window. They think it is a "miracle preventative method" or something, and once again still touch things I guarantee they would not if they had no mask (and wished they had). And as I said on that thread as well, most people I know who come down with the flu are always buying and wearing masks and getting shots. That is relevant because it shows that behaviour dictates who and how they get sick more than the tools they use to try and prevent it. This year, a complete lack of masks, and then lo and behold, lowest flu season on record; because thanks to Corona, people have been taking more care than usual, especially with the lack of masks.

-14 ( +8 / -22 )

Mask is only a way, having responsibility is most IMPORTANT.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Unfortunately there will always be people with irrational fears about masks, they will use any and all excuses they can think of to avoid using them and even to recommend for other people not to use them.

Every hygienic measure has it advantages and disadvantages, and none can perfectly protect from infection. This means that there is no point on just rejecting one of those since the best approach is using and recommend using all that can be used.

If I said that most people that I know get colds and influenza even when they wash their hands, is that reason enough to say there is no point on doing it? obviously not.

19 ( +24 / -5 )

Many people with the virus are asymptomatic, and masks protect the uninfected. End of discussion.

21 ( +22 / -1 )

Masks do not help! Masks only decrease the chance of spreading any virus if the wearer has symptoms.

Read what you wrote, masks are only effective one way? So all the doctors and nurses are wearing them for what?

17 ( +18 / -1 )

I live in US. I went to Wall-mart a few days ago. There was a long line of about 50 people in front of the door due to social distancing.

Guess how many people were wearing masks? Most of them (95%) are wearing masks and gloves.

America has recently changed its official position, telling people now to wear masks or cover with scarfs. They used to be telling people they did not have to wear masks. NO MORE.

AMERICA IS NOW WEARING MASKS.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

Mask all over Asia, yeah but try buying one now during allergy season? hmmm YOU CAN"T. Eventually the percentage who do are A. getting 1 per day from their employer, which is a good idea except why breath in dirty germed filled mask for 11 hrs or more? B. eventually they ones who are either have amply supply as a result of hoarding or their supply will run out and guess what no masks available for sale since 2 months ago now going on 3. The supply Japan had went to other countries and left nothing for its own.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

IT'S OFFICIAL.

"Recommendation Regarding the Use of Cloth Face Coverings, Especially in Areas of Significant Community-Based Transmission" (Center for Disease Control and Prevention USA)

CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover.html

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Experts in this article: Mask do not help.

Trump: Use scarves. They help prevent Covid-19

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

I'm always amused when journalists mock people who dare go into work with a cold and spread it around. I'm only allowed five days a year to self certify to be absent from work and I've never met a doctor yet who would issue a sick note for having the common cold. So into work I must go with a cold everytime I have one. And something tells me most people are in the same position as me. It's why we wear masks so that when we sneeze or cough we at least attempt to limit the spread of the virus.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Not expecting Abe's two cloth masks to be in hands of the populace for at least a month, how they can they be a key response to the outbreak? It will be about three months too late!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Of course masks help. That they do not protect 100% is a given. But anything that reduces the movement of droplet of course helps.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

there will always be people with irrational fears about masks

People should perhaps start showing some restrain.

My 2cents :

There is no clear data as of now neither for the efficiency nor the inefficiency of mask wearing in this pandemic, so one should make ones choice by oneself under the current amount of information one gathered and refrain from turning badmouthing/ostracizing/attacking/pointing/... of people one do not agree with or, for a reason or another, are not adopting the same behavior than one. If one do not want to stay of the vinicity of someone with/without a mask even crowned train are big enough for one to do so. Pandemic or not, difference's tolerance should kept going.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

virusrex: "Unfortunately there will always be people with irrational fears about masks, they will use any and all excuses they can think of to avoid using them and even to recommend for other people not to use them."

Only irrational fear is not having/wearing a mask, amigo. People who don't wear them are certainly not afraid of using them -- they're just not under the illusion that they prevent you from getting sick.

"If I said that most people that I know get colds and influenza even when they wash their hands, is that reason enough to say there is no point on doing it? obviously not."

If you said that, and actually meant it as a comparison with wearing masks, I'd ask you to stop passing people change and holding things with your mouth, touching things with your face, and maybe asking whey you put on a mask after you go to the toilet. The comparison is moronic unless you use your face to do the things people use their hands for. Let's try a couple more, though... hmmm... okay! "If I said most people that get foot injuries by heavy objects dropping on their feet when they are wearing shoes, is that reason enough to say there is no point in wearing them?" That's about as valid a comparison as yours.

And here's one more thing for the paranoid chin-warmers out there: you guys are taking masks away from people that actually need them, like allergy sufferers. Many are now having a hard time getting hold of these essential, medical items, because of selfish hoarders and people who don't need them but are paranoid that it protects them from sickness. If I get masks from Abe, whom I would rather uses the money for other purposes, I will be passing them directly to people who need them.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

@hooktrunk2

Sorry I have no time yet to judge by myself which of the two sides has more weight but this is the related article

"Coronavirus can spread through talking or even just breathing, experts say

CNN Newssource

3 days ago

Some experts are now saying the coronavirus can spread by more than just sneezing and coughing.

A prestigious scientific panel told the White House Wednesday night that research shows coronavirus can also be spread by talking and possibly even breathing.

According to Dr. Harvey Fineberg with the National Academy of Sciences, results of available studies are consistent with aerosolization of the virus from normal breathing."...

https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/02/health/aerosol-coronavirus-spread-white-house-letter/index.html

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Unfortunately there seems to be evidence now that the virus can spread through aerosols expelled by mere talking or breathing.

Yes, that is correct. However, those 1-3 layer masks are not sufficient to stop the virus. Therefore, wearing a cheap paper mask is not going to stop you catching the virus.

Case scenario: Japanese high schools! Every cold and flu season in Japan the students and faculty are ordered to wear face masks. However, every year up to 50% or more still contract the flu and many schools are closed because of it. This COVID-19 strain of corona virus is much more virulent than a common flu, so how can anybody conclude a simple face mask will help?

Face masks are in short supply and people are wearing the same mask for days. This virus is mostly spread by touch. People believe they are safe because of the mask and disregard the rest of the precautions (washing hands and distancing) because of it. The are continually touching their masks to eat, drink, speak, etc. A face mask creates the perfect environment for any virus to thrive with warmth, moisture and plenty of fresh air.

According to WHO, for a face mask to be effective against a virus it must be a 12x surgical mask and changed every twenty minutes.

It should be added that your saliva is antibacterial and actually kills viruses. The hairs in your nose are designed to catch and kill viruses as well.

There seems to be a lot of faith put into face masks, but it is a false belief that can actually promote the spread of a virus, not prevent it.

Don't forget, there are many avid mask wearers who have contracted COVID-19

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

@smithinjapan

The mask for us, the general public, is to protect others from us in case we are shedding viruses.

Inthe traincar full of passengers wearing masks, the airborne particles from peoples' mouths will be minimized even if many are coughing.

In the traincar full of passengers with no masks on, even just one who doesn't cough or sneeze properly could fill the car with airborne contaminants.

Yes, picking nose while wearing a mask necessitates taking off the mask and maybe is equally bad to not wearing mask at all

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I wear a mask when I go to the store for food and essentials but I realized that my efforts were more likely to help those who are not wearing one than for those of us who are. We all must go out to get food and some must work in essential occupations. Small measures such as mask wearing should help to a degree but it is not an impenetrable shield that will guarantee one’s safety. Nothing short of a full hazmat suit can do that. The best strategy is to minimize contact with others to the best extent possible and wait it out.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Flute

I do not get tire of explaining this particular issue, the mask wearing, because if people don't wear mask in public, they could be adding to everyone s risk of being infected.

This is unlike the other issues that people discuss here in JT in that here we could make a real difference, for good or bad.

Nobody has to listen to me now, just listen to the CDC:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover.html

@Socrateos first posted this link above.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

https://youtu.be/tPx1yqvJgf4

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I have been living in Japan for 26 years the rule of thumb prior to the virus for the flu

an automatic five days off from school and or work and everyone in the household wears a mask.  From all the families I have known over the years who followed this norm in 99 percent of the cases did not fall sick.  With that said, Japanese do not normally shake hands, they do not kiss and or hug it is not in their cultural make up.

This could be another reason this virus is not spreading as fast here, however, with that said I am sure that the numbers are higher a whole lot higher my guess probably double from what they are reporting but probably not much more.  

Today, when I went out to the market to get food both markets I went into were almost empty, the streets were very quiet and the station platform ( something I can see from my window) was with very few people which is different from last week where I was shocked to see so many.  

Friday, I had to go and pick up my pay and after getting off the train and after getting off the escalator at Otemachi station I found barely anyone there which is a first for me, ever.  This station is a main hub for 4 or 5 train lines and so you are always going to see hundreds of people shooting this way and that way, however, Friday morning nothing and or early afternoon at 2 pm a few more people than 1030 and it was so shocking I took photos on my return home as I was sure no one would believe me.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

True reasons for not wearing masks:

they are expensive;

they are not comfortable;

they hide your identity;

they are scary;

they make your sick, like Hong Kong terrorists.
-3 ( +1 / -4 )

@akie

they make your sick, like Hong Kong terrorists

apparently they have affected your mental health...

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I don't think mask will be safe when the air we breathe contains viruses. But if you have a weapon to protect yourself from the enemy many stuffs won't be enough the dimension coming to confront, this time is weekly death virus-disease around the world, majority older people up age 40. If you don't use mask and walk on the street, do you choose life or death or sick but survived?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

They don't help when only select people wear them. Japan (and Japanese) lead the world in the rumor mill that they all wear them. I often hear this misinformation spewed out by those who don't live here. There's plenty of Japanese people who don't wear masks, who do but wear them below their nose, who do it for fashion not for function, etc.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Where is the evidence that masks are effective in reducing the transmission of the virus? And if so, just how effective are they?

I’m not saying masks are ineffective, but there’s an awful lot of bandwagon jumping going on during this crisis.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Bungle said "Where is the evidence that masks are effective in reducing the transmission of the virus? And if so, just how effective are they?"

Hahaha, you are not the best doctors of the world, are you ? The east asians are the living evidence.

Where is your evidence that the masks are ineffective ?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Masks may be everywhere in Asia, but certainly not here! I can't find any period.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If one has to wear glasses the mask always makes them fog up.

They are annoying to wear for that reason. Following social distancing rule is hard in Tokyo but doing both the mask and distancing is probably good.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@ian

So your argument for wearing disposable paper mask is that the CDC recommend wearing cloth mask. If you want.

As said before, there is non clear line regarding efficient of mask (surgical / paper) so you are free to base your judgement on the ones you want. If you have a problem with people not wearing mask, get away from them and leave them alone moreover since you have no idea about why they are not wearing a mask.

The same apply the other round obviously.

Same goes for your belief that unlike other issue, wearing a mask can really make a difference. Your belief. Some should disagree. Not enough resources/data as of now.

After if you want to explain me anything about mask just do so. But regarding the way I am approaching the subject, you better start making efficient cloth mask, sterilize them, then distribute them if you want to stand to your point of the importance of masks.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Yes, picking nose while wearing a mask necessitates taking off the mask and maybe is equally bad to not wearing mask at all.

Really? MAYBE equally bad to not wearing a mask? Instead of "equally bad" how about rude, gross, disgusting, unhygienic, revolting? Not wearing a mask has never been any of those. It's simply a largely cultural, personal lifestyle and imperfect (perhaps even misguided) health choice.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@smithinjapan

Try walking to work-it’s safer.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Only irrational fear is not having/wearing a mask, amigo. People who don't wear them are certainly not afraid of using them -- they're just not under the illusion that they prevent you from getting sick.

That is exactly the irrational fear, the article already presented information that makes clear that mask do help in preventing infection when used by healthy people, but that obviously cannot stop you from being irrationally against wearing one. What would you say about someone that says that washing hands do not "prevent" you from getting sick? that he is using a well thought argument?

If you said that, and actually meant it as a comparison with wearing masks, I'd ask you to stop passing people change and holding things with your mouth, touching things with your face, and maybe asking whey you put on a mask after you go to the toilet. The comparison is moronic unless you use your face to do the things people use their hands for.

That is irrelevant, people wash their hands, they get cold and influenza, according to your reasoning that is reason enough to say that washing hands is useless and people should not try to do it.

Let's try a couple more, though... hmmm... okay! "If I said most people that get foot injuries by heavy objects dropping on their feet when they are wearing shoes, is that reason enough to say there is no point in wearing them?" That's about as valid a comparison as yours.

Exactly, the same as yours, it does help even if not perfectly, so saying there is no point in using them is, as you said, moronic.

And here's one more thing for the paranoid chin-warmers out there: you guys are taking masks away from people that actually need them, like allergy sufferers. Many are now having a hard time getting hold of these essential, medical items, because of selfish hoarders and people who don't need them but are paranoid that it protects them from sickness. If I get masks from Abe, whom I would rather uses the money for other purposes, I will be passing them directly to people who need them.

That is a very different argument, another excuse when people fail to prove that masks are useless. Nobody has said people should hoard anything. But that using masks IS useful in preventing the spread of infection.

Once again, what would you say about someone that say that germophobes that recommend washing their hands are just hoarding soap and leaving only bad quality stuff for the "people who need them"? is that a good enough reason to accept that there is no point in washing your hands?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Flute

My reason for wearing masks is not the cdc recommendation, it just came out.

Its the WHO and others' recmmendation that people who are shedding infectious organisms should wear a mask to mitigate transmission.

Of course if you are sure that you are not infected and shedding infectious organisms then you don't have to wear one =)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Don't use sophism when trying to explain to someone a mask is not an additional barrier to air transmission of the virus.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It's simply a largely cultural, personal lifestyle and imperfect (perhaps even misguided) health choice.

Im sure it's that simple for you, no arguments there. You might want to consider the CDC's misguided communication though.

You don't have to understand the recommendation, just like you don't have to understand doctors recommendations. But it might be better to follow them anyways.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So to be clear, I wear masks not to protect myself but to protect those around me.

If you don't wear a mask and you happen to be infected and shedding viruses then you will be freely spreading the virus, simple as that.

Its doesn't matter whether you believe it or not, but it will be difficult for droplets to come out of your mouth if there is a barrier enclosing your mouth.

I used to think it's that simple really, that even the simple minded will understand it. I was wrong. Turns out I was too simple minded.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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