Student Deaths Lead Chinese Schools to Change Mask Rules

By That's GBA, May 8, 2020

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There has been heightened concern in China over the possible effects of working out while wearing a mask.

During the month of April, three cases of students suffering sudden cardiac death (SCD) while running during gym class have been reported in Zhejiang, Henan and Hunan provinces. Beijing Evening News noted that all three students were wearing masks at the time of their deaths, igniting a critical discussion over school rules on when students should wear masks.

Zhu Linsheng, a physician at a Beijing Children’s Hospital, told the newspaper that there is not yet any clear evidence that wearing a mask had any effect on the students’ deaths. Zhu noted that other contributing factors may include a lack of exercise prior to returning to school, physical condition and insufficient time spent warming up before running.

Although there is a lack of concrete scientific evidence linking exercise with a mask and SCD, multiple provinces’ ministries of education have implemented new rules to safeguard students. According to Legal Daily, the Education Department of Hainan Province announced on May 7 that students and teachers across the province don’t need to wear masks during gym class or other sport activities as long as they remain 1 meter apart from each other. Guangdong province, Xiamen and Changsha have also rolled out similar measures.

Temperatures in China’s southern provinces have risen in recent days, with students having gym class during the hottest hours of the day. Yin Zhenhe, a professor in the department of preventative medicine at Yonsei University Hospital in Seoul, told CCTV that once a mask is saturated (from sweat), a person’s breathing capability decreases by up to 20%.

READ MORE: No More Masks? China Health Commission Publishes New Guidelines

[Cover image via @中国消费者报/Weibo]

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