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I came to say the same thing. From my understanding, people in HK wear the mask largely to protect their colleagues and friends when they themselves are sick (or even potentially sick, eg when one of their family is).

The article didn't delve sufficiently into that, and even implied the opposite motivation with a (snide) parenthesis ("(Surgeons use them to protect patients from their mouth-borne germs, not the other way around.)").

I believe that the parenthetical comment wasn't intended to be snide, and wasn't trying to imply that Eastern mask-wearers don't understand this. I think it was more to explain it to Western readers, as this is something that is very commonly misunderstood, at least in the US.

Ah, maybe you're right.

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