By Jessica Berget, Editor-in-Chief
Many articles have been published about how wearing facemasks during this virus epidemic does nothing to protect you. However, this week I read an interesting article and it made me think twice about the use of face masks.
In this National Post article, Tristin Hopper describes the virus spread in Taiwan in comparison to Canada. While Taiwan is just over the border from China, they have considerably less cases of coronavirus than Canada and many other countries. The writer attributes this, among many other things, to the fact that mask-wearing is normalized in Asian countries and does stop the spreading of diseases. Given that the World Health Organization (WHO) and many other sources claim that masks do nothing to stop the spreading, this is a stance that garners more research.
As of April 2, Taiwan has only 339 cases of the virus and only five deaths in the whole country. Very tame as compared to Canada’s almost 16,000 cases and nearly 300 deaths as of April 6, as reported by the Government of Canada’s website. So what did Taiwan do differently keep their country so safe despite being just a hop over the border from the origin of the disease?
According to one Bloomberg article, they did everything opposite the WHO said to do. When the WHO said that there was no evidence that the virus could be transmitted via person-to-person, Taiwan health officials reached the opposite conclusion weeks before. Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu claims the WHO said they would “take it from here,” but didn’t hear from them again. When the WHO also initially advised against the use of traveling restrictions from China, while Taiwan put in bans for all affected areas. When the WHO said face masks were unnecessary, Taiwan upped the production and gave them to its citizens. It’s obvious that Taiwan was much better equipped to deal with this virus and maybe there’s something for Canada to take note on in the case of having enough face masks as a safety precaution.
Maybe face masks do stop the spread—it’s better than nothing right? You wouldn’t want to breathe the same air as someone who is sick, and other people also don’t want the reverse from you. Maybe they do more harm than good if worn too long like other sources say, or maybe they don’t do much at all. So, maybe Canada should up the production of masks for the future like Taiwan does. One thing I do know is that the masks provide a sense of security for many people, and if that makes them feel safe and not make them panic, it sounds good to me. More importantly, it’s the people working in the health and safety sectors that need masks more than we do.