Covering up

 Is that an N95 mask?
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve had this minor irritating itch in my throat which hopefully will not develop into a cough.  This being the height of the H1N1 flu outbreak, I do not wish to become a suspected case but it’s unlikely since I have not been anywhere remotely near the affected areas and do not have other positive symptoms such as a fever >38 degrees C and a runny nose.  Anyway, our workplace requires us to take our temperature twice a day and report it online so we are being monitored anyway. 
It’s a pity that the people here in Singapore are not in the habit of wearing a mask when they have a cough/cold unlike Korea, Japan and Hong Kong.  Most would shy away from doing so because they do not wish to stand out or have people think they’re suffering from some contagious disease.  I think we have to start this practice young, so that it becomes a habit and since everyone else is doing it, it becomes natural to mask-up when we’re not well.  That would certainly take care of those disgusting coughing-sneezing-with-uncovered-mouth culprits we meet so often, especially on public transport.  I have seen some who had just wiped their running nose with bare hands and then transferring their germs to the grab bars of the seats on public buses when they alight.  Yuck …. I had to try not to touch any of the grab bars when alighting so would instead pinch gingerly at some other part of the seats to maintain my balance.  But that is only on occasions when these sick people are visible.  When we do not know better, we would still have touched all the contaminated places at some time and end up with that cold/cough. 
Perhaps we should start a ‘it’s cool to wear a mask when unwell’ campaign and get the kids to make it a lifelong habit.  And then try to get the adults to do the same.  Would I start wearing a mask when I next get that cough?  I feel rather guilty to say this but probably not at this point in time, but I would always cough/sneeze into a tissue. 
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