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Japan local govts teaching residents about making face masks

  • February 27, 2020
  • , Jiji Press , 7:43 p.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, Feb. 27 (Jiji Press)–Local governments in Japan are introducing to residents ways to make their own face masks and disinfectants on the internet, at a time when these items are selling out at stores in line with the spreading outbreak of the new coronavirus.

The moves seek to allay concerns among locals over the COVID-19 virus, by letting them know that it is possible to make the items by themselves. Many local governments have been bombarded with complaints from residents especially about mask shortages.

The health promotion support division of the prefectural government of Oita, southwestern Japan, posted on its website in early February methods for creating do-it-yourself face masks using gauze fabric and elastic bands, and disinfecting the masks after use.

The instructions were provided in English, Chinese and Korean reflecting needs among foreign visitors, as well as in Japanese.

The Oita government offered similar instructions during the outbreak of a new type of influenza in 2009, which also caused mask shortages. “We made good use of our experience from the new flu,” an official at the division said. “Some people are worried if they don’t have masks.”

The health promotion division of the city of Katsuragi in Nara Prefecture, western Japan, also posted instructions for making masks on its website, in response to local residents complaining about mask shortages. Materials of the DIY masks can be bought at 100-yen shops, according to the website.

“Staff members considered ways to easily make masks and collected information,” an official of the division said.

The cities of Gobo in Wakayama Prefecture, western Japan, and Miyakojima in the southernmost prefecture of Okinawa introduced methods for creating disinfectant liquid on their respective websites.

The makeshift disinfectant, made by diluting chlorine bleach with water, can be used to wipe doorknobs, tables, chairs and other household items for the purpose of removing the virus. However, incorrect usage of the liquid can lead to health issues.

Along with the ways to make the disinfectant, the cities posted warnings not to let the liquid directly touch one’s skin, to store it out of the reach of infants and not to mix the solution with acid to prevent toxic gases from being formed.

As some 10 people have been confirmed to be infected with the new coronavirus in Wakayama, “there is high interest among citizens” in how they can avoid infection, a Gobo city official said.

“We are distributing flyers containing the information to all households in the city,” the official added.

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