South Korea is often seen as a pioneer in the fight against coronavirus. It seems that face masks are a key weapon in the country's arsenal. RTL spoke to Luxembourgish Dr. Marc Diederich, who currently lives in Seoul.

Dr. Marc Diederich is well-known in Luxembourg for his cancer research and his role in the Televie fundraising campaign. He currently works as a professor at the University of Seoul in South Korea, a country that is often portrayed as a pioneer in the battle against Covid-19.

The Asian country boasts 51 million inhabitants and has massively ramped up testing since the outbreak of the pandemic. Despite extensive testing, the country has only reported 10,300 infections and 192 deaths.

According to Dr Diederich, face masks are an important step towards bringing the pandemic under control. In South Korea, he explains, it is considered extremely rude not to wear a face mask at the moment.  The mask does not only shield the wearer from air pollution but also, to a certain extent, from coronavirus. A recent article in the medical journal "Nature Medicine" for example found that the masks stop larger droplets and saliva from spreading. In other words, significantly fewer virus-laden droplets are projected into the air. Covering your mouth and nose, Dr. Diederich explained, primarily protects others. This means that, if an entire population wears a mask, individuals are efficiently protecting each other.

Dr. Diederich said: "I would really recommend wearing a mask to my friends and family in Europe. It can even be a very simple mask. I would find it very important if we emulated Asian countries, which have great success in the prevention, in this regard in order to protect each other."

Instead of taking strict measures like China and Europe, South Korea has embraced a model of open information, public participation and widespread testing. It is a government recommendation to wear a mask. Authorities have urged people to stay indoors, avoid meetings and minimise contact with others resulting in quiet streets and half-empty stores and restaurants.