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To mask or not to mask?

Exeter Chinese students differ

Opinions are split amongst Exeter's young Chinese community about whether to wear facemarks as protection against coronavirus.

Facial protection is becoming more prevalent in Britain's larger cities, especially with tourists and students from the Far East. In Exeter, it is just starting to become noticeable. The city has a high proportion of overseas guests studying at the university, which has become a leading global academic centre in the past decade. 

Chi Huen, 24, still walks around the city maskless because, he says, right now the risk is very low in Exeter. Try telling that to his friend, Jo. "I'm wearing a mask to protect myself and so I'm totally healthy," she says.

She has noticed that people are treating her differently now she is wearing a mask. "Some people do look at me and are curious," she says, but she is keen to emphasise she is healthy and asks that people don't treat her with prejudice.

The group of Chinese students she is with are all aware of last week's racist attacks in Exeter and, whilst such incidents are unusual in the city, it has caused concern. Another student who didn't give his name says he generally stays in his campus accommodation, but that he has friends who, when wearing masks, have been subject to verbal abuse. "It's kind of discrimination," he says, "but most people are very friendly to us. Exeter is a good place to come. It's safe and friendly."

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