As far back as 1910, during the Manchurian plague, a Chinese doctor claimed that microbes were being spread by air and that a simple cotton mask could reduce transmission.
Soon after, a prominent French doctor mocked his conclusion and visited the sick without wearing a mask to prove his point. He died of the plague several days later. In that part of our world, masks were and still are widely used to fight respiratory infections.
Five months ago, a pandemic was declared here in Canada and in most other countries around the world. One of the ways we, as individuals, can help ourselves and others is by wearing a mask when outdoors in public.
In just four months time, we will once again celebrate the Christmas season, albeit one quite different than previous Christmas seasons.
How about giving you and me and others an early Christmas gift, a gift that will keep on giving to you, to your family, to others.
How about every one of us declares we’ll wear a mask between now and Christmas Day when outside and in the company of others. Just think of the wonderful gift that would be.
First, in what might appear to be a small way, you will protect yourself. Second, in a larger way, you will protect your family and friends so dear to you, especially at Christmas. Third, you may save the life of someone you don’t even know by regularly wearing a mask when away from your own home.
This is a gift that would keep on giving even beyond this pandemic, a gift given by you and me unknowingly to another person.
When you choose to wear a mask, you cut down on the transmission of airborne particles from your body that may or may not be infected with COVID-19. The mask might also protect you from others carrying this nasty germ.
If we would all wear a mask daily for the next four months, on Christmas Day, you and each and every one of us could say, “I have given the best gift I could, a caring gesture to others.”
It could be the greatest Christmas gift any one of us here in Lambton County could give, the gift of health.
Please wear a mask at all times when you’re out; for your protection, for your family’s protection, for the protection of people who will never know how much you cared.
Merry Christmas in August. Stay safe. Give the gift of life. Wear a mask.
Bob McCarthy is a local historian and author