Why do HK people wear surgical masks when sick?
This is a question I have been asking myself since I came to Hong Kong. A month ago, I received my Time Out magazine at home and the topic discussed inside was the SARS. (Severe Acute respiratory Syndrome). I then discussed a bit with my colleagues and I learned those surgical masks are a new thing – new from 10 years ago when the SARS came to HK…
So except the fact that HK people are being selfish but also respectful of others and don’t want to share their virus, there is more insight behind those surgical masks!
The first outbreak of the SARS in HK was in February 2013; it infected 1,755 people in the city and killed 299 of them! At the beginning, medical staffs were not aware of this new dangerous infection and were not well prepared to fight against such an epidemic event. This is one of the major reasons why it had spread so quickly in HK.
As of today, the psychological impact on HK people has remained, with surgical masks worn even if you are not really sick. I have cough once in the MTR because of the air con or the dust, no idea… Suddenly all the locals were looking at me angrily and gave me some space straight away… I was not wearing any mask.
Hand sanitizers can be found everywhere now and all public surfaces are being disinfected on a regular basis - who in HK is not familiar with the protective plastic wrap in the lifts with the wording “disinfected every hour”?
Even after 10 years, the locals are still asking themselves if it could happen again in their city and as quoted by the Time Out magazine “Yes, it’s a paranoid post-SARS world in which we live, but as we know from 10 years ago, ignorance doesn’t always equal bliss.”
So morality, if you are sick, put a mask on!