Germans are calling on the government to make the wearing of masks compulsory to help counter the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Regional officials in Germany are urging the federal government to introduce the rule that has already been enforced in neighbouring Austria that demands that shoppers cover their mouths and noses in supermarkets.
The Czech Republic and Slovakia have also just made masks mandatory.
The eastern city of Jena have already mad this rule mandatory becoming the first German municipality to order mask use in shops and on public transport.
Authorities are encouraging people to sew their own, or wear a protective cloth, rather than seek out medical masks which are in short supply.
The German health minister, Jens Spahn, said he saw no reason to oblige people to wear masks, “but I recognize the growing willingness of people to wear masks out of solidarity for other people”.
Winfried Kretschmann, the premier of Baden-Württemberg, which is one of the worst-hit states in Germany, said he supported the idea of home-sewn masks saying, “At the very least they serve as spit protectors, reducing the risk of infecting fellow citizens through passing on the droplets.”
It is assumed that as long as the number of cases are rising then it becomes necessary to enforce all measures to help curb new infections. People could very well be following the example of East Asians in the use of the masks.
Across the country, people are making masks at home, using instructions from the internet.
Costume makers employed by now-closed opera houses have also started making medically approved masks for doctors and nurses. Some hospitals have issued local appeals for donations of cotton masks that can be washed at 90C.
The world health organization has sounded their concern over people wearing masks and assuming they are a means to not contract the virus entirely and hence people are being encouraged to still self-isolate and wash hands regularly.
Michael Ryan, the head of its health emergencies programme, said wearing a mask can provide a false sense of security and divert attention from hygiene measures, such as hand washing. Touching the outside of the mask can also make it less effective.
He stressed however that the WHO does recommend the wearing of masks by people with coronavirus to prevent its spread, by home caregivers tending those who are sick, and by those on the front-line, such as nurses and doctors.
Although the benefits of the mask are grossly underrated their use has been encourages. This was affirmed by a leading voice on medical matters in Germany.
But this was in condition that people don’t buy out all the masks leading to a lack my medical staff.
“Mouth-nose protection serves to protect other people, so that if you as the wearer are infected yourself and you cough or sneeze, the droplets don’t travel so far, which makes sense,” said Lothar Wieler, president of the Robert Koch Institute. “We recommended it from the very start of the outbreak and continue to do so.”
He said people wearing face protection were also less likely to touch their faces hence slightly curbing coronavirus infection.