Social media users have been sharing posts online about a mask for infants and claiming it is used to prevent COVID-19. This claim is false; the mask is a design to protect infants from air pollution.
One post’s description reads: “We have arrived at a place where we not only stifle our own breathing and the breathing of our children because of paralyzing fear of a virus with the survival rate of over 99.5%, but now we are moving towards marketing the training of our infants for lifelong mask wearing. Pollution of the mind is a far bigger problem than “fine dist” [sic] particles. God help us.”
Comments on the posts include: “UNMASK OUR CHILDREN”, “No way would I ever put that on my child. What happened to children under 2 shouldn’t wear them?? Smh people are just being rediculous now” and “This is just plain disgusting. A year ago thus [sic] would have been considered child abuse:(”.
The image shows a baby wearing a mask with pollution depicted in the background. The text on the image reads: “Fine dust is increasing globally and is especially deadly to babies. Furthermore, there is a shortage of baby mask and a lot of damage occurs. The concept of pacifier was suggested to prevent the habit of child pulling out something cumbersome.”
A reverse Google Image search reveals that this image also appeared on the James Dyson Award’s website (though the link appears to have been removed, here ). The mask was designed by Na Yeun Kim and Jin Ho Chae and selected as a national runner up for 2018. This international design award is open to current and recent design engineering students, as explained www.jamesdysonaward.org/en-US/ .
The Spark Design Awards page here explains that most Asian cities have five times more fine dust than the World Health Organization standard for safety. The design was created because of the health effects on infants of coming into contact with dust and pollution, as well as a lack of a similar product on the market.
The mask does not claim to be for COVID-19 and was designed prior to the discovery of COVID-19 here .
Missing context. The mask shown was designed to protect babies from pollution, but some users are understanding it to be a measure for COVID-19 prevention.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .
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