The Mask in Phuket
It has been weeks and months since there have been any reported cases of Covid-19 in Phuket... and yet people continue to wear the mask as soon as they leave their homes as if the pandemic is still in full swing.
I admit that in this situation, without being an expert, this famous mask is no longer very useful, if at all, since no cases of Covid-19 have been reported.
Contrary to what is happening in France or elsewhere in Europe, here there is no question: whether the areas are overpopulated or not, the mask is worn in all places. Covid or not Covid, wearing a mask is always mandatory, so... we wear it.
It is clear that mentalities in Asia are quite different compared to those in Europe or other continents.
Let's say there's Asia... and then there are the others.
In Europe, and particularly in France, many people are opposed to wearing the mask for a multitude of reasons.
This is not surprising. For weeks at the beginning of the pandemic, our officials kept saying that this mask was useless... and now these same officials are fining you if you don't wear it. There is reason to revolt and not want to respect such contradictory decisions and opinions.
Some will even claim that forcing people to wear this horrible thing is an infringement of freedoms, that it is not good for your health, that it is useless.
In any case, here in Phuket, even though this Covid-19 has not been around for many weeks, the mask remains in place and yesterday, in a grocery store, a guard went to meet an "expat" and asked him kindly but firmly to put his mask on.
In Phuket... masks are part of everyday life
In Thailand, wearing a mask is still mandatory and people do not flinch. It's a matter of education, usually ... of course the bad tongues will not hesitate to criticize this kind of submission of the people ... but in the meantime, I feel safe in this country and I will never contest these decisions although some related to this pandemic are sometimes surprising...
On the economic side, it is a disaster in this country which lives a lot from tourism. All those businesses that live off mass tourism are in agony. Many establishments will probably close their doors for good. The Thai government has made its choice: save the country from the pandemic at the expense of the economy. It's not just Thai people who are affected here in Thailand. Small businesses set up and run by European entrepreneurs are also being affected. Tourist agencies, car rental agencies, restaurants... all these people are at a standstill for an indefinite period of time and their situation has become really delicate.
The Thai government wants to promote domestic tourism, i.e. to make Thai people travel in their own country... nice idea, but Thai people have other worries to recover because of this pandemic than to make tourism. For the moment, where we usually see 50 tourist buses from all over the world, we see 2 or 3 of Thai tourists and still ... not every day. With that, the country is not saved...
For the moment, (August 2020) there are still no tourists in Thailand, the borders remaining closed for the moment. You just have to walk here and there to realize the desert... empty shops, restaurants partly frequented by expats, ghost streets and neighborhoods, in short... a very delicate situation from all points of view.
So, in spite of this presence of Covid in Thailand, people continue to respect this wearing of the mask so much decried elsewhere. Far from being the only one to be quite shocked by the behaviour of my fellow-citizens in France when they see their gatherings for example for the music festival, or a little later on the banks of the Seine, or on holiday... without distancing themselves, without masks, everyone drinks, kisses, hugs, laughs, sings happily but also so careless of the risk of being contaminated.
I used to see these images on TV channels and I kept telling myself that all these people were really playing with fire, and by dint of playing with fire, you end up getting burned.
In France, outbreaks of infection have started to multiply and at the beginning of August 2020, hospital admissions are currently over 2,000 cases per day. Many continue to be opposed to wearing masks, finding every excuse on earth. Confinement has been hard to live with, we now know what this virus is and yet... we are not really protecting ourselves from it. It's really incomprehensible.
Personally, I've been wearing the mask outdoors for months... it's obviously not the most pleasant thing, but... since we have to, we do it... my God, there are far more painful things in life than wearing the damn mask.
In January when this pandemic started, it was really new for everyone. At all levels we were surprised, overwhelmed, disorganized.
You could say that we all discovered what Covid-19 was, and what it was capable of doing... and what I can't understand the reaction of many is that... with this experience, there are still people who don't want to wear the mask, who don't respect the distance, and who are opposed to all these safety decisions.
There are constant comparisons of other, much more deadly diseases, of course there are... cancer kills more people than Covid, so does starvation... yes, but is that any reason not to try to avoid the Covid-19 crap?
Every day I read here and there, little articles in French, German or English... (all that to say that this phenomenon of rejection of the mask is not limited to France alone): often I read that this story of Coronavirus is a big hypocrisy, the lie of the century... me, I don't mind, I'm not a doctor, I'm not a nurse or a nurse's aide and I don't know anything about the medical or sanitary environment... so in doubt, I wear the mask.
On TV, during these long weeks, I listened to many professors, emergency doctors or virologists, great specialists, and I often noticed that some people did not agree with them. Between politicians looking for excuses, and leading health specialists contradicting each other... it's not surprising that it's hard to find one's bearings and avoid having doubts.
I've seen all these images of patients, often dying, often recovering as well... of doctors and caregivers who have died because they tried to do their jobs and, ill-equipped, were infected and died. Is that a lie? Is that hypocrisy? Frankly, I find it hard to understand...
Take a look at this video on Youtube...
And then these images that I put together at the time of the peak of the pandemic on a slide show showing the hard work of all these caregivers and of course all the people working in parallel.