Wear A Mask Even If You Are Well

Yes, wear a mask even if you are well. I’m not saying this to be difficult. I’m saying this as someone who stood behind a person sneezing yesterday and got water droplets all over both feet as the ‘sneezer’ had directed his erm bodily fluids towards the ground and somehow the wind carried the ‘spray’ to me. I was wearing flip flops so I most certainly felt those droplets. (@_@) If he had been walking towards me, perhaps those droplets would have landed on my face and/or torso. The ick factor aside, the main reason us who are well should wear masks is because, very often, the people who are ill, don’t! If you wear shoes to protect your feet from cuts and scrapes and blisters, and jackets to protect your body in cold environments, why shouldn’t you wear a face mask to protect yourself against the inconsiderate and unhygienic practices of people you happen to meet in public, in the office or even at home?

We KNOW that we should cover our nose and mouth when we want to sneeze or cough, preferably with a tissue. But sometimes this uncontrollable desire happens when we least expect it – such as when your hands are full with grocery bags so you end up going ‘achoo’ at the person in front of you or if you turn to the side, maybe at a wall.

I guess we can all agree that many people who are coughing and sneezing in public do not don masks. I have even witnessed someone raising the mask he was wearing so he could sneeze outside of it. It was a totally *facepalm* moment for me. Like, do people even know what the masks are for?

To put it simply, wearing a mask when you are ill is about being considerate. It is also about being apologetic that you are out in public when you should, by right, be staying at home and resting. You don a mask because you want to be socially responsible and not spread those germs and viruses to the people who are around you. Perhaps you wish to continue working and not take that MC for whatever reason. Maybe you are the only one who is available to pick up your kid from the childcare centre so you have to be out.

So you wear that mask and you KEEP IT ON.

I’ve heard complaints that the (surgical) face masks are uncomfortable to wear the entire day. Perhaps it feels stuffy, you don’t want the virus to stay around / near your face the whole time, people can’t hear you well when you’re talking to them. And the list goes on. People who are ill are already suffering because of their bodily discomforts. So I don’t even want to fault them for not wishing to add to their list of various discomforts by wearing a mask.

If I cannot change them or what they are doing, I can only protect myself by doing what they are unwilling to do. I wear that mask myself or I stay home!

On Day 3 of CNY, I’d gone overseas, to Pekanbaru. And I began wearing a surgical face mask at the airport. I was not ill. But my fellow passengers on that flight were. People around me were coughing quite badly. Most weren’t wearing masks. Ordinarily, I’d have freaked out and asked for a change of seat. Especially since there’s the Wuhan virus scare now. However, I had my mask on. So I didn’t panic. And after that, we met Grab drivers who were similarly unwell too. And now I’m back in Singapore. I don’t have the flu, cough, fever, etc. I credit that not to a super strong immune system (since I doubt mine’s really like that) but to wearing masks.

Why?

  1. Having a mask on means I do not subconsciously touch my nose or mouth. That mask acts as a barrier and a constant reminder.
  2. People think I am unwell so they stay clear of me. Yes, that means even those who are coughing or sneezing will think I have a more potent virus and decide to keep away. 😀
  3. It reminds me to practise good hygiene. I certainly used a lot of antibacterial wet wipes or washed my hands after touching money or at mealtimes.

The Government has made it quite clear that our health is our own personal responsibility. So if I am willing and able to buy masks and wear them, I should. If I see someone who is ill and doesn’t have a mask, I should offer the person one too. Whether he/she appreciates it or wears it, it doesn’t matter. We protect ourselves first then we can care for / about others.

I understand the G’s intention to not have the public panic and make a rush for stores to grab some masks. As there probably won’t be enough masks. The G’s giving out four masks per household, and I think that’s a total of about 5-plus million masks? If everyone in Singapore puts on a mask today, that would wipe out the entire supply of masks given out… just in 1 day.

But I guess most households might have a ‘stockpile’ of masks from previous health scares or even something like the SGHaze. So we can use those when we need to head out of the house. *Do check the expiry dates though.

Ultimately, we need to be clear about one thing: we aren’t the Japanese or the Taiwanese. They already have this (good) habit of wearing masks when they are ill and need to step out of the house. In Singapore, the only time I see my personal friends wearing masks is when they are parents and they are ill and do not wish to have their (young) children get ill too. In protecting their kids from the viruses, they are ensuring they don’t get sleepless nights tending to sick (and often cranky) children. Here, sadly, you have to protect yourself. Don’t count on the people you meet to protect you from their viruses. We need to learn from the Japanese and the Taiwanese, for sure. But who knows how long it’ll take for that habit to be ingrained here?