Hong Kong’s textile industry is manufacturing its first batch of up to 3,000 handmade reusable fabric masks and hopes to distribute them among members of the city’s vulnerable groups later this week amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The effort is aimed at easing an acute shortage of surgical masks in the city, though a medical textile expert warned fabric masks would not be effective in filtering the virus that killed one and infected at least 29 in Hong Kong.
Textile and garment industry lawmaker Felix Chung Kwok-pan showed to the Post samples of freshly finished face masks made of three fabrics that were said to be effective in protecting the wearer against large droplets and airborne particles and were antibacterial after washing them up to 50 times.
But he admitted that the masks had not yet been scientifically proven to stop the airborne virus originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
“We know the materials are not meant to block the virus,” he said, “But our sector hopes to provide alternatives as fast as we can to relieve people’s panic amid the government’s fumbling response in mask supply.”
The Liberal Party leader said five textile manufacturers in Hong Kong partly suspended their original production to produce the reusable masks.
Considering it might take up to three months to make masks by importing mask machines from elsewhere, he said: “The most efficient way in this critical period is to knit them with traditional sewing machines by our factory workers.”