Hongkongers have used 2 billion disposable masks since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, a local green group has said, urging the government to issue guidelines to encourage the use of reusable variants.
Greeners Action surveyed 1,095 people and found that 92 per cent of respondents habitually wore disposable masks. More than half of them used seven to 10 disposable masks every week, while 7 per cent used 11 or more over the same period.
“If the government wants to promote the use of environment-friendly masks … it should set up some guidelines for the public to explain when and where reusable masks can be used,” Stanley Wong, senior public affairs officer of Greeners Action said at a press conference on Thursday.
He said the public might have some misconceptions about the protection offered by reusable masks, and noted that they were also more cost-effective in the long-run.
“According to our study of reusable masks in the market, they have almost the same level of filtration efficiency as disposable masks,” he said.
The top three considerations of those who wore disposable masks included the level of protection they offered (81%), hygiene (81%) and stock at home (35%), according to the survey.
Dr Alvin Chan Yee-shing, a paediatrician, said reusable masks could be worn in areas that were not deemed as high-risk.
“When you go to high-risk areas such as hospitals or elderly care homes, you should wear disposable surgical masks. But if you are going to general social gatherings, where the risk is low, you can consider wearing reusable masks,” he said.
Chan also called on the government to carry out tests on reusable masks so the public could be reassured about their filtration standards.
Nearly 70 per cent of those surveyed said they supported the use of reusable masks, but only 54 per cent said they had a fair understanding of them.
The findings were compiled from online questionnaires collected between October 13 and 31.
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