Japan combats virus with masks not lockdown

source: Japan Times

Japan is turning out to be one of the more successful Countries battling Coronavirus, and it is doing it without enforcing a lockdown.

It is relying on three key strategies:

  • Clear communication and awareness
  • Robust tracing and selective testing
  • Ubiquitous mask wearing

The government wore face masks in public and gave 2 masks to every household.

Read more in this great Bloomberg article: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-05-22/did-japan-just-beat-the-virus-without-lockdowns-or-mass-testing

The father of the face mask

Dr. Wu Lien-teh (1879-1960) via United States Library of Congress

If there is one person who could lay claim to inventing the use of masks as protection against infection then it is Dr Wu Lien-teh.

Dr Wu’s story is fascinatingly described in Masking for a Friend, where they explain that Dr Wu was instrumental in bringing in face masks to protect first medical staff and then the general population from the deadly Manchurian plague that swept china in 1910-11. This made him a popular hero as the plague receded, and it is likely that this success laid the groundwork for face masks being positively viewed in today’s Asia.

From the article: Masking for a Friend from the excellent design podcast 99% Invisible

What history teaches us about mask wearing

San Francisco gathering, 1918. Wikimedia

It may be the experience of mask wearing laws set during the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 that is guiding the policy makers of today to play down the usefulness of masks.

According to Samuel Cohn, Professor of history at the University of Glasgow, masks were the least popular instrument against the virus with little belief in their effectiveness and great outrage at the imposition they caused.

Link: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/05/face-masks-what-the-spanish-flu-can-teach-us-about-making-them-compulsory

Government now advising ‘face-coverings’ in public

In what we could classify as a step in the right direction…

the Government is now advising that people should aim to wear a face-covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible and they come into contact with others that they do not normally meet, for example on public transport or in some shops.

Our plan to rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy

It would be so much better if they made this a requirement – no facemask, no getting on a bus or entering a shop. Hopefully this is coming soon.

Germany’s states make face masks compulsory

The BBC report that all states in Germany have now announced plans to make the wearing of face masks compulsory.


The article also links to a number of other BBC content about facemasks:

Masks for all? The science says yes.

Support for mask wearing is growing rapidly. The Artificial Intelligence Company fast.ai has published an excellent post that lays out in a clear way some of the scientific research that supports the use of face masks to fight Coronavirus.

A particularily clear illustration is made by the infection rates of two Countries: European neighbours Austria and Czechia. They both implemented social distancing on the same day but Czechia went a step further and introduced mandatory mask wearing.

Comparison of COVID-19 cases between Czechia and Austria


Simply speaking could transmit coronavirus

people talk

A new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggests that tiny aerosol droplets are ejected from the mouth when speaking and can hang in the air for up to 9 minutes.

The study found that wearing a mask eliminates the ejection of these droplets.

Scientists are currently investigating whether these tiny droplets have the ability to carry the Coronavirus.


About maskup.me

“I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to not infect her.”

https://maskup.me (with apologies to Notting Hill, Julia Roberts and Richard Curtis)

This website aims to collect and share information about the role that masks can play in the fight against Coronavirus.

Send photos, articles, ideas and suggestions that will help to mail@maskup.me