Being masked in public in Western culture is unusual as openness and identity is highly valued. Anonymity behind a mask is generally associated with negative values and is most widely associated with either the repressive hand of government or those involved in anti-social activities. However, in some countries, masks are commonplace to manage the impact of chronic poor air quality. An interesting recent inversion was Australia when it was faced with wildfires.

A survey conducted in South Korea indicated about 70 percent of respondents stated that they wore face masks after the coronavirus outbreak. Health experts believe that the widespread use of masks have helped many Asian countries slow the spread of the virus.

As commercial disposable masks are in critically short supply due to global demand, some resourceful persons have responded by making their own reusable face masks.

In Piacenza, the coronavirus has killed over 500 people, filling over 28 pages with obituaries. The mother of our colleague Monica from our Milan office lives alone in the village of Travo near Piacenza. She was inspired while watching the news of Chinese volunteers to produce face masks for her own village. Having worked as a cleaning assistant in a pre-school, she understood the need for hygiene and was well aware of the dangers of the virus. Before long, tens of masks were sewn, distributed to her neighbours, shopkeepers and their families. This came weeks before the government made an official announcement that residents of the virus-ravaged Lombardy region would be required to wear masks at all times.

In Cavite province, approximately two hours away from Manila, spikes in Covid-19 cases continue. While frontliners are protected with snorkel masks donated by sports retailer Toby‘s Sports, the lives of millions are still at stake. A colleague, Irine is committed to sewing masks for her family back home in Cavite. She has put her skills from the Textile and Fashion Industry Training Centre ( to good use.

Irine is convinced that her only weapon to help stem the spread of the virus is her trusty sewing machine. These eco-friendly handmade face masks are made with premium cotton, completely breathable, washable and reusable. She’s now a volunteer for “The Masks Sewn With Love” project initiated by Sun Xueling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs.


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