The compassion of masking

I have to admit that wearing a mask is uncomfortable and I don’t like it. The internet had been flooded with lots of information about mask. In the beginning, the western media says that the Covid-19 virus is unlikely to be airborne. It transmit by contact with contaminated surfaces. Wearing a mask is unnecessary and we should only wear a mask when we are sick. That way, we will not create a shortages of mask for the medical profession. Fabric mask is ineffective because it does not filter out the microns size viruses.

My country also subscribe to the above western expert opinion and people were told not to wear a mask unless they were sick. (coughing, having fever or runny nose) In fact, I was having dinner with a doctor and he spent 10 minutes repeating the same rhetoric and answering questions of fellow dinners. That was in Jan 2020. People wearing mask on the street were deemed over reacting and paranoid. Mentally we jeered at them because we hate to wear a mask. It is suffocating! Images on TV shows Chinese and Taiwanese wearing mask and we tell ourselves, “That is because their air is polluted by viruses,not here…”

Fast forward to today, April 2020. My government is telling everybody to wear a mask because within this three months, so many died and so many had fallen sick. More had been learnt.

Anyone of us can be a carrier and not show any symptoms of being ill. There are cases of people who discovered that they were carrier of Covid-19. During that period when the virus was within them, life had continued as per normal. They went to school or offices, took the public transport and went to the mall. Unwittingly, they were transmitting the virus without their own knowledge. Unfortunately, some who caught the virus from them, will not have the chance to celebrate New year’s eve this year.

Wearing a mask is no longer about protecting ourselves. It is also to protect others. Some people are even wearing a mask at home, especially if they live with elder folks and children. Wearing a mask had become an act of compassion. It is no longer about ourselves and our choice or rights to be infected. It is about not endangering others.

As Buddhist, this is a calling for us to practice compassion. Wear a mask to protect others because we never know when we might be a silent carrier.

Meanwhile, Buddhist countries like Thailand and Sri Lanka have monks converting excess monastic robes into mask and giving them freely to people. (That’s the Buddhist spirit)

Fabric mask is better than no mask. Personally, I wear a fabric mask but will place a piece of folded tissue paper on the inner surface of the mask before wearing it. That piece of tissue paper double up as a filter (hope this is useful tip for you)

To my western readers who may not have access to Chinese Info spreading in Cyberspace, here’s some info (I think, Not verified as true, but like I said earlier, while we were jeering at the over reacting people, it is now demonstrated that we would have fare better, if we had learnt from them instead of jeering at them)

  1. The Virus can be airborne up till 4 meters from the carrier. The article says that Chinese state doctor tested the air in the ward of an isolated patient (bed ridden) and the air that is 4 meters away has the virus. (some speculated that the virus will be too weak….) But let us be cautious, stay away from crowds and stay at home. at least, wear a mask when you leave your house. The virus can transmit via our breathe or when we talk.
  2. The virus can remain stable on surfaces for days and can infect people. Therefore, when we return home from the supermarket, wash our hands, wipe down the products with disinfectants, take a shower and change our clothes immediately. Wash our clothes and I wash my fabric mask. Really a chore, so it is simpler to stay home.

That’s all folks. Stay safe and healthy. May all be well and happy.

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