Coronavirus News Asia

The great mask wearing U-turn


Having told their populations that wearing masks was all but useless against the coronavirus, several Western countries have performed dramatic U-turns in the last few days.

The rapid rethink as the number of deaths has rocketed has stirred anger and confusion, with some accusing their leaders of lying to them.

The most spectacular about-turn has been in the United States where President Donald Trump on Friday urged all Americans  to wear a mask when they leave home.

With America accused of gazumping and even “piracy” by Berlin to procure masks, Trump later said he would probably not wear one himself — although his wife Melania tweeted that everyone should.

And only in February, US Surgeon General Jerome Adams tweeted: “Seriously people – STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing the general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if health care providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!”

While mask wearing has been widespread in Asia since the beginning of the epidemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) and numerous governments have insisted that they should only be worn by carers.

This stance was seen as way to protect the dwindling stocks of surgical and FFP2 masks — which offer the most protection.

Seen from Asia, where wearing masks during the flu season is normal, Western reluctance seemed utterly baffling.



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