Image Of Woman Wearing Multiple Masks Is From 2019, A Year Before Pandemic

AFP
Update: 2022-01-20 08:16 GMT

A photo of a woman wearing multiple surgical masks is circulating in social media alongside a claim it was taken after a Hong Kong health expert made comments in January 2022 recommending wearing two masks to increase protection against the Omicron Covid-19 variant. The photo has been shared in a misleading context: it has circulated online since at least May 2019, more than two years before the expert gave his double-mask recommendation in 2022. 

"Professor Yuen said wear two masks, but how many masks is she wearing? Countless! The possibility of her dying from getting out of breath would be higher than dying from the virus," reads a traditional Chinese-language Facebook post from January 13.

The photo shows a woman on a train wearing multiple masks at once.


A screenshot, taken on January 18, 2022, of the misleading post.

The photo was also shared on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Hong Kong discussion forum LIHKG, and online magazine Eastweek alongside a similar claim.

Yuen Kwok-Yung, chair of infectious diseases at the University of Hong Kong's Department of Microbiology told Hong Kong-based newspaper South China Morning Post that people worried about the highly contagious Omicron Covid-19 variant could consider wearing a cloth mask on top of a surgical mask.

He was speaking in January 2022 after a string of Covid-19 cases in apartment buildings in Hong Kong.

However, the photo circulated on social media was not taken after Yuen's comments.

A reverse image search on Google found a similar photo posted here on Facebook on May 4, 2019. 

"This is so worthy for us to roll our eyes at," the traditional Chinese-language caption reads. 


Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo in the misleading post (L) and the Facebook photo (R): 

The same photo was shared on Facebook in May 2019 and was posted as a meme in July 2020.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing a disposable mask underneath a cloth mask to improve fit and protection.

However, it urged people not to wear two disposable masks because they are "not designed to fit tightly and wearing more than one will not improve fit".

The CDC published a guide on types of masks and respirators on its website.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by BOOM staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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