COVID-19 mask debate: people from across the globe share their views

A combination of photographs featuring people who chose to wear and not to wear facial masks as a protective measure against the coronavirus
A combination of photographs featuring people who chose to wear and not to wear facial masks as a protective measure against the coronavirus Copyright AP Photo
By Natalia Liubchenkova with AP
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The views of people from different countries reveal the different aspects of the COVID-19 mask debate.


Rarely has an accessory been adopted so quickly on a global scale — face masks have become a must for billions as many governments move to make them mandatory in the fight against COVID-19.

While many see wearing a mouth and nose covering as an action for the common good, some are resistant, as many find them inconvenient, believe they are ineffective or even harmful.

The views of those who find mask necessary and their opponents, collected from across the globe, reveal the different aspects of this debate.

Ilaria Virginia, Italy

Ilaria Virginia Infelisi, a notary from Rome, says she has strict in her workplace regarding face masks: "I ask everyone to wear one when drafting contracts, even if there is a lot of space and everything is disinfected after each meeting. 

"We ask people politely. I believe wearing a mask is a sign of courtesy and mutual respect."

Riccardo De Luca/AP Photo
Notary Ilaria Virginia Infelisi poses with a surgical mask in her office in Rome, ItalyRiccardo De Luca/AP Photo

Estelle Fitz from the UK

London resident, Estelle Fitz, thinks that everybody should wear a mask for the safety of others.

"You have to think about other people," she said.

Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP Photo
Estelle Fitz poses for a photo wearing a mask as she stands on Westminster Bridge in LondonKirsty Wigglesworth/AP Photo

Tatyana Khryupina, Russia

Tatiana Khryupina from Moscow says she does not believe face masks are effective. 

“It has minimal use (wearing a mask) and it is definitely not what you should start with,” she told The Associated Press.

Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Photo
Tatyana Khrupina is not wearing a face mask on Nikolskaya street near Red Square in Moscow, RussiaAlexander Zemlianichenko/AP Photo

Vladimir Ignatyev, Russia

Vladimir Ignatyev, 73, also from Moscow, does not agree with Tatyana. For him, wearing a protective face mask is not just about his safety, but also about the safety of others. 

“You want to treat people as you’d want to be treated – so you’ve got to wear one,” he said.

Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Photo
Vladimir Ignatyev wearing a face mask at Red Square in Moscow, RussiaAlexander Zemlianichenko/AP Photo

Rana Hijazi, Jerusalem

Rana Hijazi from Jerusalem says all people should wear masks because "it is very important for their health and for the survival of all humanity".

Oded Balilty/AP Photo
Rana Hijazi, 19, poses for a portrait wearing her protective face mask in the alleys of Jerusalem's old cityOded Balilty/AP Photo

Emmanuelle Prevot, France

Emmanuelle Prevot, an art restorer from Paris, explained that she does not always wear a mask while working with chemicals, because it is not always practical. Yet, she said that she does cover her mouth and nose in public areas so as not to worry other people.

Francois Mori/AP Photo
Emmanuelle Prevot, restores paintings and other art, poses in her workshop in Paris wearing a face maskFrancois Mori/AP Photo

Dalila Kopp, Brazil

"Those wearing them (masks) will be breathing their own carbon gas in a very high quantity. It will be a long cycle of breathing that same gas in and out," Dalila Kopp, a writer from Rio de Janeiro, told The Associated Press. 

She added she knew a person that was involved in a car accident that she believes happened because they were wearing a mask.

Silvia Izquierdo/AP Photo
Writer Dalila Kopp, 55, poses for a photo with a face mask on her neck on Copacabana beach, Rio de Janeiro, BrazilSilvia Izquierdo/AP Photo

Steve Rouse, United Kingdom

Steve Rouse from London thinks that everybody should have been wearing masks for the four months prior to his interview in July. 

"If you are wondering if it has any protective value, if I tried to spit through this mask it wouldn't get very far, so its a no brainer," he told The Associated Press.

Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP Photo
Steve Rouse poses for a photo wearing a mask in LondonKirsty Wigglesworth/AP Photo

Paul Tomo, United Kingdom

Paul Tomo, also from London, does not share Steve's opinion on masks.


"If we really needed them, why weren't they introduced in the beginning? They gave a deadline before they implemented it. 

"This gives a clear indication to question what you are being told because its clearly for control purposes, not for your protection whatsoever," he said.

Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP Photo
Paul Tomo poses for a photo in front of a souvenir stand in Westminster, LondonKirsty Wigglesworth/AP Photo

Hikari Tsunashima, Japan

Hikari Tsunashima from Tokyo thinks people should wear masks as much as they can: "People should wear a mask properly as a precaution," she said.

Eugene Hoshiko/AP Photo
Hikari Tsunashima poses for a photo in a mask in TokyoEugene Hoshiko/AP Photo

Mohammad Karbalaei, Iran

Mohammad from Tehran explained that there was no special reason why he was not wearing a mask at the Grand Bazaar, adding that he had a relaxed attitude towards the pandemic.

"Ever since they said the coronavirus had come to the country I haven't taken care and I never got infected,” he said.

Vahid Salemi/AP Photo
Mohammad Karbalaei not wearing a protective face mask at Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, IranVahid Salemi/AP Photo

Reyhane Rajaei, Iran

Reyhane, also from Teheran, sees the situation differently. She explained that her grandmother died from the new coronavirus and some members of her family also caught it. 

"I try to wear a face mask so that I won't catch it at least and also to avoid putting others in danger," she said.

Vahid Salemi/AP Photo
Reyhane Rajaei wears a protective face mask at a gold market in Tehran's Grand Bazaar, IranVahid Salemi/AP Photo

Wasim Abbas, Pakistan

Wasim Abbas lives in rural Pakistan where, he says, a lot of people are still not convinced that coronavirus is real. 

He says that masks are also an unaffordable luxury for those in extreme poverty. "Some people are poor. They have not been given masks," he told Associated Press.

Anjum Naveed/AP Photo
Pakistani Wasim Abbas poses for a photo not wearing a face mask in Islamabad, PakistanAnjum Naveed/AP Photo

Poo Alejandro Padrun, Cuba


Poo Alejandro from Havana wears a mask and says he asks others to put one on too. "We have to take care of ourselves," he said.

Ramon Espinosa/AP Photo
Poo Alejandro Padrun is wearing a protective face mask as a precaution against the spread of the new coronavirus in Havana, CubaRamon Espinosa/AP Photo

Peda Tuazon, Philippines

Peda Tuazon works as a fruit vendor in Manila. She is determined to convince others to wear a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Aaron Favila/AP Photo
Peda Tuazon, a 62-year-old fruit vendor, poses at her stall in Manila, PhilippinesAaron Favila/AP Photo
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