This chart shows South Korea and Japan significantly outperforming the rest of the world in preventing spread of COVID-19.

My understanding is that everyone there is wearing surgical masks in public and have not resorted to the extreme shutdown measures the U.S. has taken. Is this empirical evidence we should be wearing surgical masks?

What are South Korea and Japan doing that the rest of the world can learn from?

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    What's not in the link are: Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan (where I live). We, Taiwan, had tens of thousands Chinese flowing cross Taiwan strait per day in Jan. Taiwan is doing OK so far (339 confirmed cases, population 23 M). People in E. Asia all have something in common, we wear surgical masks ever since the outbreak. Does this tell you something?
    – Nobody
    Commented Apr 2, 2020 at 9:10
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    @GrahamChiu On April 1, the reported cases of Japan is 2178. Is there a different number? Also, did you see that mask producing machine?
    – Nobody
    Commented Apr 2, 2020 at 11:45
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    @scaaahu nice machine, longer video: youtu.be/pK_tquYwOLk Commented Apr 2, 2020 at 13:01
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    @FranckDernoncourt You may want to check out this page about those mask machine makers in Taiwan and China. Taiwan used to be #1 mask exporter, then moved to mainland China. I'll check out more details. The machine that was purchased by NZ PM, I believe is from Taiwan.
    – Nobody
    Commented Apr 2, 2020 at 13:47
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    @GrahamChiu: Can you please explain your comment. Why is Japan not doing well? Is their data inaccurate? Because if it is accurate, they appear to be doing very well. Commented Apr 2, 2020 at 16:57

1 Answer 1


If you look at the graphs you referenced you can see that the data for South Korea and Japan are totally different. South Korea's infection rate has fallen, and continues to do so. Taiwan's cases don't even register which shows that Taiwan is doing even better than South Korea. Japan, however, has failed to reduce their infection rates which continue to rise, just at a low pace than other countries apart from those mentioned above. It is still rising exponentially ( because it's a flat line on a log graph ).

Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has recently announced that the govt is going to distribute 2 cloth masks to each family in Tokyo to try and reduce the infection rates.

So, the question should really be, what are Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong doing differently from other countries that might halt the spread of Covid-19. The answer is they are doing extensive contact tracing, testing, and quarantine. All of this is designed to find the asymptomatic infected population that are driving the disease, and isolate them.

South Korea has won global praise for swiftly making coronavirus tests widely available and has already tested more than 394,000 people. It has found 9,583 infected people.

Japan, a country whose population of about 127 million is more than twice that of South Korea, has conducted more than 48,000 tests on approximately 28,000 people and found 1,724 cases.




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