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Thursday, May 23, 2013
Germ WarfarePosted Saturday, November 13, 2010, at 1:59 AM
For a city that is in many ways quite unhygienic -- dogs using the sidewalks as their toilet, raw meat hanging in open-air markets, people putting bones/gristle on restaurant tabletops -- Hong Kong and its people are quite concerned with clean behaviors.
There are advertisements on television reminding children to stay home from school if they're sick. Posters in the subway ask citizens to please spit into a tissue, rather than on the street. The button panels of many elevators are covered by a plastic sheet, which is disinfected a number of times daily. My students, even as 10 year olds, always ask to wash their hands immediately after sneezing.
The kicker, though, is the frequent site of a person wearing a surgical mask as he or she goes through daily life. I did see people wearing masks in Beijing two years ago as protection from air pollution. But here, they are worn when a person is sick to supposedly prevent spreading disease.
Teachers at my school wear them and somehow manage to speak to an entire classroom. Students wear them as well, but I find their muffled voices quite difficult to understand. What bothers me most, however, is that people sneeze directly into the mask, which then remains on their face for the rest of the day. Yuck!
I don't mean to sound anti-disease prevention because I am certainly not. But, I do doubt the effectiveness of the masks in everyday use because contagious periods do not always coincide with when symptoms occur. I had a slight cold earlier in the school year, but I hope I don't get really sick, if only because I don't want to sport a surgical mask.
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Something about music. Something about small towns. Something about Hong Kong. Or maybe something else entirely.
Sydney is a former staff writer for the Democrat-News. She received degrees from University of Missouri in both music and magazine journalism. She played oboe with the Marshall Philharmonic Orchestra and the Marshall Municipal Band while she was in Marshall.