Masks for airline passengers: now the Danish are telling us how stupid we are

From Denmark:

Professor in microbiology, Hans Jørn Jepsen Kolmos, thinks that facial masks will be a solution to protect ourselves from the coronavirus on multiple segments of the journey. Just not on board the aircraft.

It is important to underline, that only surgical masks and certified respirators are effective. Fabric masks are more permeable for drops and particles, and one should therefore ensure that only masks of documented quality is used.

Infections do not care about rituals, and masks are only helpful in situations with a high likelihood of being exposed to infections. Those could, for instance, be during boarding, while visiting the lavatory, or when leaving the aircraft. During the flight, the mask, however, can cause more damage than it helps.

Masks do not only lose their protective properties by getting wet. Another way to bring down the protectiveness is when you touch the mask or your face. Doing that, bacterias can in even more ways find their way into your body:

When touching the mask – for instance when drinking coffee, repositioning it, etcetera – you can pollute your fingers with virus particals from the mask itself. That way, you neutralise the effect of the mask, in the best case scenario. Therefore masks cant be the only protective equipment used and should be limited to rationally selected tasks and timeframes.

In other words, according now to both the Swedes and the Danes, we are responding to coronavirus in the dumbest ways imaginable!

From Facebook today:

Righteous Person #1: I’m getting used to wearing a mask when I go out. They are not fashionable – but they perform a vital Function to keep other people from catching what I might have.

Righteous Friend #1: more and more, here in Montana where we are down to our last 20 active cases, the mask has become a public symbol of solidarity and neighborliness — and a reminder that lack of vigilance in large public gatherings still holds the threat of a second wave of infection.

Righteous Friend #2: It’s the opposite of a MAGA cap.

Expert advice from WHO that should be rejected (while “listening to the experts”):


21 thoughts on “Masks for airline passengers: now the Danish are telling us how stupid we are

  1. So WHO says masks useless to wear a mask if you’re ‘around’ people who are or have ‘recently’ been coughing or sneezing, and who are not wearing an effective mask?

  2. Masks are a negative health wise. Mask decrees are about humiliation and submission. Just say no to masks. Yes you can go shopping and such wherever you want. Be normal, show off that pretty smile.

    • You should suggest that attitude toward masks to your doctors next time you have surgery.

  3. “Righteous Friend #2: It’s the opposite of a MAGA cap.“

    MAGA stands for “Make America Great Again”. The opposite of this is…?

    • you beat me to the punch with your citation (but with better insight regarding the literal consequences of anti-maga).

      These masks are being required for psychological purposes. People who do not wear them are socially stigmatized. This crisis is 95% psychological and 5 % virological.

  4. > the mask, however, can cause more damage than it helps.

    Every time a I hear an “expert” say this I realize they are either an idiot, a liar, or both. As an engineer, its obvious a mask acts as an impedance to the flow of small particles. It may be imperfect, but its better than nothing. Saying its worse than nothing is just false.

    • engg: A fresh surgical mask pulled from an infinite bin of brand new ones in a hospital supply cabinet and then worn for a while and never touched seems like it could work, especially because there is always a step trash can for disposal and a sink for washing hands and hand sanitizer. Our mole in the medical system says “never touch mask during operation; have to scrub back in”.

      Contrast to the average person. A cloth mask (a.k.a. “rag”) is pulled from a pocket and worn for the 25th time since washing. It has been touched in the pocket. It has been touched when on the face. If worn while seated in an airline seat, if it is touched there is no sink or hand sanitizer to “scrub back in.” It is wet with saliva and incubating germs that have been acquired from fellow passengers on the plane. The germ incubator is right next to the person’s nose and mouth.

      I don’t think it defies common sense to say that the wet used rag in front of face might be worse than nothing!

    • Russil: It is great to hear your perspective, which contradicts both the WHO and the Danish “Professor in microbiology”! And, certainly, IHME has demonstrated that everyone has a right to GUESS regarding Covid-19. But how do you KNOW that the saliva-soaked cotton rag protects others? What if the professor is right that you will, at some point during your 6-hour flight, touch your saliva-soaked cotton rag and then, since you have no sink or hand sanitizer at your seat, touch a bunch of items within the aircraft?

    • Philip likes to compare those arguing for public health measures to religious believers. An amusing story from Joseph Heath:

      Anyone who looks up the records on my children will see that I made a “conscientious objection” claim for my daughter. I can explain. She got her MMR booster three days before her birthday. Years later we got an official letter from the government saying that our child had not received the required shots at age 6 (or whatever, I can’t remember exactly what age), and so we had a week or so to get it done or she would be kicked out of school. Called to complain and spoke to an almost comically inflexible bureaucrat, who absolutely would not accept that getting a shot at age 5 years + 362 days was, for all intents and purposes, equivalent to getting one at age 6. She was completely committed to making us go out and get it done again. So we chose the course of least resistance, which was to file for an conscientious exemption. I had this awesome plan to write a letter, explaining that we subscribe to an unusual religion called “science,” and that according to our belief system, receiving a vaccine on a Monday is just as effective, overall, as receiving it later in the week, say on Thursday. We consulted with religious officials — known as “doctors” — and they confirmed our interpretation of the holy texts, etc. Sadly, the form didn’t require any sort of explanation or justification, you just had to state that you had some reason for not wanting your kid vaccinated and they took your word for it.

  5. I live in Finland. We are a bit more shut down than Sweden (quite a lot from a Swedish standpoint, not enough from the shutdown standpoint), and nobody wears masks. Active case numbers are on a declining trend nevertheless. Today schools reopen (the library did a few days ago, better check the books I loaned!).

  6. “Infections do not care about rituals, and masks are only helpful in situations with a high likelihood of being exposed to infections.” –“the Danes,” or one Dane, anyway.

    This is wrong on its, er, face. Masks reduce the likelihood of infection of those who would otherwise inhale airborne droplets exhaled by an infected mask wearer. One doesn’t know whether one is infected. The reduction in likelihood doesn’t have to be very much to cumulatively make a significant difference in the communal rate of transmission if (almost) all wear masks, especially in hazardous situations — primarily in enclosed, populated spaces.

  7. One big part of the problem the airlines were and still are facing is the question of what the flight crew does if an initially mask-compliant passenger decides to take off the mask inflight, either because they’re sick of wearing it or consciously to create an emergency situation requiring the flight to divert. The airlines have tried mightily to thread this needle, and I don’t envy them. I can imagine people in this thread coming to blows if they should find themselves together on a flight.

    “Bottom line to the pilots: a passenger on board your aircraft who is being compliant with the exception of wearing a face covering is NOT considered disruptive enough to trigger a Threat Level 1 response,” referring to some kind of intentional disruption by a passenger that could cause the captain to divert the flight.”

    So what is the flight crew supposed to do? De-escalate, use situational awareness, try to encourage the passenger to keep wearing the mask, etc., etc.

  8. All this stuff is deliciously abstract right up until the moment it isn’t.

    Actual event today:

    1) Convenience store owner complying with Baker state mask order has customer come in, possibly drunk, not wearing mask.
    2) Customer is also Selectman of Town!
    3) Owner tells Selectman Customer he must wear mask or leave the store, like everybody else, cites language in Baker’s mask order.
    4) Livid Selectman calls Board of Health Director and tells BOH chief to threaten to close the store down!

    Initial intelligence is that the store owner was completely correct and Selectman may be totally ignorant of Baker’s statewide order, or drunk, or both.

    You are the Board of Health chair. What do you do?

  9. Why can’t you just wear your mask and quit whining about it? In the grand scheme of things is it really that big of a hassle?

    • If taking this scientist’s advice against the saliva-soaked face rag can save even one human life from the dreaded Covid-19, isn’t that worth it?

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