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Home  >  Features  >  The Coronavirus Diaries: The 'Covid Cover-Up'


The Coronavirus Diaries: The 'Covid Cover-Up'

Wednesday May 27 2020

David Sinclair, Church of Scotland Mission Partner based in the Czech Republic, reflects on the country's experience with Coronavirus and asks whether making face coverings compulsory has made a difference.

David Sinclair with his wife, Mary.

Here in the Czech Republic we are at the end of lockdown and I yesterday returned to the office.

As you have done in Scotland, we too have had to stay at home, work from home, and only go out for some exercise or to go to the shops for medicine or food or other essential business. Staying at home and keeping your two-metre distance when outside was the same message.

Our message was also that we were not allowed to be in any public place (including streets and parks, shops and offices, and public transport) without covering our nose and mouth. The fine for failing to do so was up to the equivalent of £750. Even the newsreaders in studios and politicians making speeches were wearing them.

Having done that now for ten weeks, it seemed a little strange to us that the United Kingdom was not doing the same. I actually do not like wearing a mask at all – it feels very claustrophobic – but after all this time, and with no definite end in sight, I have had to get used to it. However we now only need to wear our masks in shops, on public transport and in church which will begin again on Sunday, but with social distancing meaning two services instead of one.

The discussion about masks sounded a little strange. Some say that masks should be reserved for medical personnel. And that is true, but here most people do not have surgical masks or any officially manufactured product. Most people have created their own at home – from scarves or whatever was to hand. Ours are made from pillow-cases.

So then we hear the argument that these kinds of masks do not protect you. And that is true as well; they protect you hardly at all. But what they do is protect others from you. If you stand in front of a mirror with your mask on and breathe, and if there is no vapour on the glass, you get the point. If you try to blow out a candle with a mask on, you get the point.

The slogan about the wearing of masks here is ‘I protect you and you protect me’. It’s a good slogan, I think, because it gets past the ‘me’ emphasis of all this. It’s not about protecting ourselves; it’s about protecting each other. It’s about doing for others what we would like them to do for us.

The most recent statistics as I write are that in Scotland, depending on which figures you use, there have been over 3700 deaths from Covid-19. In the Czech Republic, with twice the population of Scotland, there have been 317.

Maybe the great Covid cover-up has had something to do with the difference.

David Sinclair, with his wife Mary, is a Church of Scotland mission partner with the Evangelical Church of the Czech Brethren, based in Prague. 

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