Why do you often see people from East Asia wearing surgical masks?
It’s not uncommon to spot people wearing surgical masks at airports nowadays.
Within the past decade it has become progressively more common to spot east Asians wearing surgical masks in public. In western countries the use of surgical masks by health professionals are primarily intended to safeguard their patients. In contrast, the use of masks by people from east Asian countries are intended to safeguard the wearers against environmental germs. The question in the mind of many is why we see this widespread phenomenon among this subset of peoples?
Some of us may vividly recall the worldwide panic in 1997 caused by the so-called “highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI)” or Avian H5N1, and the mask-wearing phenomena appears to have stemmed from this pandemic. That virus was originally detected in Hong Kong. Then came along SARS, and now, all the media headlines are consumed by the novel coronavirus. The common denominating attribute of these three viral pandemics is that they began in China. Do you think that the latter facts are sufficient to explain the widespread use of masks by the east Asian population? Or was the use of the facial mask a common trend in east Asia, and we only learned about it after 1997?
So, here is our weekly challenge question:
The use of surgical masks in public settings is very common among the east Asian population. Which of the following reasons most closely explains this widespread phenomenon?
A. Higher genetic predisposition for airborne diseases
B. Higher rates of zoonotic (animal to human) diseases
C. Higher number of people living per square miles
D. Mandatory governmental requirements for wearing surgical masks
E. Widespread beliefs in Taoism principles
F. Societal predisposition for anonymity to avoid governmental persecutions
G. Masking facial expressions to facilitate socializing with others
H. It is a fashionable trend in Japan and China