Does culture play a vital role in your decision in wearing masks?
-How much is the COVID-19 outbreak affecting your decision now?
Face masks were a common sight across East Asia, but were shunned in the West. Experts say culture plays a significant role in people’s decision in wearing masks.
However, with the global spread of COVID-19, how much is the epidemic affecting your decision now?
FAVORED IN THE EAST, BIASED IN THE WEST
To wear, or not to wear? It seems to depend mostly on where you come from. In many parts of Asia, face masks are commonplace as people use it to protect from air pollution, bacteria and viruses, or to cover facial imperfections.
In Japan, it’s impolite for women not to wear any makeup when going outside. So masks serve as a quick cover-up.
But in many Western countries, wearing face masks may draw you unwanted attention or even invite stigma and racist attacks. For example, a Chinese student from Britain’s University of Sheffield was verbally and physically harassed in January for wearing a mask, and an Asian woman in face mask was assaulted and called “diseased” in a subway station in New York in February. Those incidents show a fundamental difference in how masks are viewed in the West versus Asia.
According to a Twitter poll conducted by Xinhua on its official account, 21.5 percent of the 1019 respondents think people wearing masks before COVID-19 were disease carriers, 65.8 percent believe they used it to protect from pollution.
Many people commented that “culture matters” in their decision in wearing masks. As it’s culturally unacceptable, many people of Asian descent ditch their habit of wearing masks under social pressure.
COMMON ENEMY, COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY
With COVID-19 reaching over 218,000 people and spanning 158 countries and regions, according to the latest statistics from the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, the global community is facing an escalating challenge from the disease.
According to a recent Facebook poll on how COVID-19 is affecting your decision in wearing masks conducted by Xinhua, most people think it’s not only about culture, but our collective responsibility.
“Wearing masks, it’s not about culture, it’s all about protecting yourself, your loved ones and others too if you are sick,” commented a netizen named Albert Joseph Rapiscal Radoc.
But a shortage of face masks and medical supplies prevented those in the West who have already realized the importance of it from wearing one.
“I have been looking for masks for more than a month now, living next to Lombardy (in Italy), but the problem is that authorities didn’t organize well and you can’t find any more masks in pharmacies,” commented Ric Prim.
“It’s better to wear them now than sorry later,” said Cyril Moras.
Actually, health experts have mixed ideas on the efficacy of face masks to prevent the coronavirus which is generally spread through respiratory droplets from the nose or mouth of a person with COVID-19 when he coughs or exhales.
Some argue handwashing is more important, while others say masks can help stop transmission of people who have shown symptoms.
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams urged the Americans to stop buying masks, as it could limit stocks for health care workers.
“They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk,” wrote Adams on Twitter.
In China, where COVID-19 cases are drastically going down and businesses are gradually resuming operations, the wearing of masks has long been made compulsory in public places, while most Western countries just advise people to do so and many people still choose not to wear it when going out.
Anyway, to wear, or not to wear, it’s a deep-rooted cultural thing and a global pandemic may change it for now, will it after?
Malawi main opposition parties seal an alliance
LILONGWE, March 20 (Xinhua) — Two main Malawi opposition parties, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM have finally agreed on an electoral alliance in preparation for the impending fresh presidential election in the country.
The leaders of the two parties, Lazarus Chakwera and Saulos Chilima, signed the deal in the capital, Lilongwe, Thursday witnessed by thousands of their parties’ supporters. The two opposition leaders said they have come together for the betterment of all Malawians and not individuals or a small group of people.
UTM leader and Vice President of the country, Saulos Chilima, said Malawians have been suffering for so long and that the alliance marks the binging of a better change for the country.
“Today the 19th March 2020, is the most important day in the history of this country: we are starting a real change from today following the journey we started after the constitutional court ruling on the May 2019 presidential election that nullified the elections on 3rd February 2020,” said Chilima. He urged the supporters of the two parties to register in their large numbers when registration for the fresh election starts so that they should vote and monitor the proceedings to ensure that no one tampers with the electoral process again.
Chilima claimed that he has information that the state house is forcing telecommunication companies in the country to give them access to spy on people’s calls and said he has supporting documents which he can publish in the media if someone will challenge him. MCP leader, Lazarus Chakwera, also said change is near and all Malawians should not fear as the alliance is for those who wish the country good. The Malawi constitutional court on February 3 nullified the May 2019 presidential elections after both Chakwera and Chilima challenged the results citing mass irregularities.
Chinese embassy launches rehabilitation project for Zimbabwe’s main COVID-19 isolation facility
HARARE, March 19 (Xinhua) — The Chinese Embassy on Thursday launched the rehabilitation project for Zimbabwe’s main coronavirus isolation and treatment facility in Harare, as the Asian nation steps up assistance to help the southern African nation combat COVID-19.
Zimbabwe has not recorded any confirmed case of the virus but has escalated its national preparedness and response to stem the spread of the virus into the country.
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday declared the epidemic a national disaster, and banned all public gatherings for the next 60 days to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
On Thursday, he also launched the country’s preparedness and response plan against COVID-19.
The national plan has a budget of 26.4 million U.S. dollars and will enable the country to have an integrated and coordinated management strategy focusing on prevention of COVID-19 and mitigating the severity of its impact.
As part of efforts to strengthen Zimbabwe’s capacity to handle the virus, the Chinese business community, under the guidance and coordination of the Chinese embassy, mobilized resources to revamp Wilkins Hospital in Harare which has been designated as the country’s main isolation and treatment facility for COVID-19.
Rehabilitation work started last week and is expected to be completed in a record 10 days. Part of the upgrading work includes sprucing up the hospital’s dilapidated infrastructure and adding of previously unavailable intensive care beds.
Speaking at the launch ceremony, Chinese ambassador Guo Shaochun said China was committed to working closely with Zimbabwe to fight COVID-19, which is gaining ground in Africa.
He said the peak of the epidemic was now over in China after the country implemented swift, decisive, and scientific measures to contain the highly contagious virus.
“As a good friend and brother, China has been working closely with Zimbabwe from the very onset to keep the country safe from the virus.
“At this testing moment for Zimbabwe, the Chinese government, business community, academia and people from all walks of life are eager to assist Zimbabwe,” he said.
He said apart from knowledge sharing and transfer of skills to Zimbabwean health personnel on managing the virus, China was also mobilizing donations of various goods and equipment to help the country fight the virus. The donations were expected in the country soon, he said.
Zimbabwean health minister Obadiah Moyo thanked China for upgrading the hospital, saying the assistance will help boost the country’s capacity to deal with the virus.
“We want to compliment the Chinese government for their scientific approach in solving the COVID-19,” said Moyo, “They have been working with us, making sure that if the virus does come to Zimbabwe we will have the opportunity to be able to fight it quicker and be able to be on top of the situation.”
Harare City Council deputy mayor Enock Mupamawonde expressed the council’s gratitude for the rehabilitation work, which he said should jolt the nation to take more practical measures as it prepares to fight the epidemic.