May 1, 2020 / 7:23 AM / 3 months ago

Face masks fail to crimp style of Taiwan martial artists

A student of a martial arts center trains while wearing a surgical mask to protect himself from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Taipei, Taiwan, April 30, 2020. REUTERS/Ann Wang

TAIPEI (Reuters) - For martial arts students in Taipei, training is going on almost as normal as Taiwan keeps the spread of the new coronavirus well under control.

While large parts of the world reeling from the pandemic and in lockdown, Taiwan has reported just 429 cases and six deaths, thanks to early prevention and control measures.

Taiwan has not reported any new cases for six days, and no transmission within the community for almost two weeks.

While the government has encouraged social distancing and the wearing of face masks, life on the island has gone on largely as normal - including for many gyms.

    Sung Ming-yen, the founder of a group of martial arts gyms, said after new cases were announced, business was inevitably affected the next day, with people cautious about going out.

“But if there are zero new cases, everyone will have confidence,” he told Reuters. “In this environment and atmosphere, we should trust the government and take care of our own control measures, so we can continue to live happily and healthily.”

Martial arts aficionados in his gyms carry on their training virtually as they would at any other time, albeit wearing face masks.

“After a while you get used to it and start thinking that your heart and lung function will slowly increase along with gains in strength. When competing in the future, this will come in handy,” said boxing student Dylan Huang, 39.

Reporting by Fabian Hamacher; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel

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