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Hong Kong theatre group volunteers make homemade masks to combat coronavirus

World News | Published:

Drama lover Jo Ngai and her friend Jessie Han have turned a theatre rehearsal room into a temporary face mask factory.

Volunteers pose for a photo with their handmade cotton masks in Hong Kong

Volunteers from a Hong Kong theatre group are using their backstage skills to help fight the new coronavirus, sewing reusable protective face masks for those who cannot access or afford them.

Jo Ngai, a drama lover and founder of the group Nonsensemakers, and her friend Jessie Han have turned a theatre rehearsal room into a temporary handmade mask factory.

With the help of friends they met online, they have been working to produce 400 fabric masks that can be reused by throwing away the inner lining.

It is not clear how effective they will be in combating the virus, but Ngai and Han think their triple-layered creations will be an effective defence.

A volunteer irons a handmade cotton mask in Hong Kong
A volunteer irons a handmade cotton mask (Kin Cheung/AP)

As infections have grown in Hong Kong, thousands have lined up to buy masks.

The supply is limited, and when available, the prices are often astronomical.

Han said: “I noticed that the price of surgical masks has surged threefold within three days.

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“So we think that it is nearly impossible for ordinary citizens, especially the poor, to buy surgical masks.

Volunteers make handmade cotton masks in Hong Kong
The group are volunteers (Kin Cheung/AP)

“But face masks are essential with the outbreak of the coronavirus.”

Regardless of their origin, fabric masks are a good option amid the shortage of industrially produced surgical masks, according to Dr Joseph Tsang, a Hong Kong specialist in infectious diseases.

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Dr Tsang said: “It is always better to wear something rather than nothing.

A volunteer makes a handmade cotton mask in Hong Kong
The masks are handmade (Kin Cheung/AP)

“Regarding the design of this fabric mask, putting a surgical mask into the middle of the mask can help prevent the virus and the mask’s moist absorbing layer can extend the lifespan and effectiveness of the surgical mask.”

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