With the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, famously face-mask friendly Japan has been experiencing a serious shortage. Disposable masks have been flying off the shelves and long queues form at drugstores whenever new stocks of paper masks arrive. Some people have gone the DIY route, making face masks from paper towels, handkerchiefs or even old bras.
On April 1, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that the government will be sending out two washable, reusable cloth face masks per household, in a bid to reduce demand for disposable paper masks. The cloth masks will be delivered to 50 million households via Japan Post, starting with the prefectures with the highest number of coronavirus cases. Deliveries are expected to begin next week. Aged-care homes, facilities caring for those with disabilities, and elementary and junior high schools will all receive additional cloth face masks, too.
The government also distributed 15 million masks to medical institutions last month, and will send another 15 million next week.
The number of coronavirus cases in Japan has been growing slowly compared to other countries, but Tokyo has seen a sharp increase in confirmed cases over the past week. Tokyo citizens have been urged to stay indoors, work from home, and avoid non-essential outings.
Keep up-to-date with the coronavirus situation in Tokyo here.
Keep busy indoors