To wear or not to wear? That has become the key question during the pandemic as the face mask has become a symbol of our changed lives under coronavirus. Still, months after the pandemic began to spread, many people remain unsure about whether a mask is essential to keep them safe.

Messages differ from country to country. While the US Surgeon General pleaded with the public to stop purchasing face masks, countries in Asia such as South Korea and Japan distributed masks to the citizens.

Western countries are experiencing higher rates of COVID-19 as compared to Asian countries because of West’s aversion to wearing masks.

How Coronavirus infections rate compare country by country

Italy: 12,428 deaths, low mask-wearing culture

Taiwan: 5 deaths, high mask-wearing culture

Spain: 8,2689 deaths, low mask-wearing culture

Japan, 56 deaths, high mask-wearing culture

USA: 3,431 deaths, low mask-wearing culture

South Korea: 162 deaths, high mask-wearing culture.

Why masks lower COVID-19 spread and deaths

Wearing masks help in three ways:

Masks decrease the spread of the virus by infected people. It traps particles on the inside, preventing them from being released into the air and becoming airborne.

Masks prevent airborne particles from being inhaled from the outside

Masks limit hand to face contact. It puts a physical barrier between potentially contaminated hands and passages to an individual’s lungs.

When and how to wear a mask

Wear a mask outside of your home to avoid the lingering virus droplets.

Before putting on a mask, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

Avoid touching the mask while wearing it, if you do, clean your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

People caring for the sick should wear masks to protect themselves and to prevent further transmission throughout a family unit. Mask wearing has become critical in these situations, thanks to lockdown.

Those who are frontline healthcare workers. Right now the people most at risk from this virus are frontline healthworkers who are exposed to the virus.

To remove the mask, remove it from behind. Do not touch the front of the mask. Discard immediately in a closed bin and clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

Fact Check

COVID-19 is NOT airborne. The virus is mainly transmitted through droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. These droplets are too heavy to hang in the air,they quickly drop fall on floors or surfaces.

You can be infected by breathing in the virus if you are within 1 meter of a person with the virus, or by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth before washing your hands.

To protect yourself, keep at least 1-meter distance from others and disinfect surfaces that are touched frequently. Regularly wash your hands thoroughly and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.