- Dec 11, 2018
Red Cross volunteers wore face masks during the flu pandemic of 1918.
(CNN)When the novel coronavirus pandemic hit Asia, people across the region were quick to wear masks, with some places like Taiwan and the Philippines even making them mandatory in certain scenarios.
But in the West, mask adoption has been far slower, with England's Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, for example, going so far as to claim mask-wearing is unnecessary.
Yet it hasn't always been the case that mask-wearing is an Asian proclivity.
It certainly wasn't during the influenza pandemic of 1918, which lasted from January 1918 to December 1920, and infected one-third of the world's population, or about 500 million people, leading to about 50 million deaths -- about half a million of which were in the United States.
There are many parallels between the two pandemics.
In the 1918 flu pandemic, not wearing a mask was illegal in some parts of America. What changed? | CNN
In 1918, America adopted mask wearing with a greater vengeance than anywhere else in the world. But a century later, it is Asian countries which have remembered the lessons the US learned.