Gov’t ensures mask supply: CS

January 30, 2020

(To watch the video with sign language interpretation, click here.)


The Government is playing the role of a facilitator to ensure that an adequate supply of face masks will arrive in Hong Kong on time.


Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung made the statement when briefing the media today on the supply situation of face masks, saying the Government has managed to secure eight million masks for Hong Kong in the last week or so.


Mr Cheung added that a further 24 million masks are being prepared and will arrive in the city in the not too distant future.


Responding to the question of whether the Government will hand out masks to the community, he said: “If we can tackle the supply at source, I think the problem will be solved, basically.


“That’s why we have been leaving no stone unturned in the last few weeks, trying to play the role of a facilitator.


“For example, most of the importers actually are from the Mainland. They are Hong Kong-based companies but they are operating and manufacturing on the Mainland. That’s why we are facilitating with the relevant ministries, customs and so on, to ensure that they can arrive in Hong Kong on time and also in adequate amount.”


The Chief Secretary also pointed out that there is a shortage on the Mainland and that the situation is very tense.


“It’s not just Hong Kong or China. In fact, it’s a global issue. Even the World Health Organization recognises that the shortage of masks hits many, many countries in the world.”


Additionally, Chief Executive Carrie Lam convened the fourth meeting of the Steering Committee & Command Centre in relation to the novel coronavirus.


Having regard to the advice of experts, the Steering Committee & Command Centre considered that it is necessary to prioritise the supply of surgical masks and that priority should be given to healthcare workers and personnel providing care services, people providing essential services and other members of the public with practical needs.


In a statement, the Government pointed out that all relevant departments and the Hospital Authority (HA) have maintained a certain number of masks. However, their consumption rate over the past month was up to six times the previous rate.


The current stockpile of masks kept by the Government Logistics Department (GLD) can meet the operational needs of government departments for up to two months, while the HA’s stockpile, taking into account the orders placed, is adequate for about three months, it said.


The GLD is sourcing globally and has contacted more than 220 suppliers from over 10 countries. Economic and trade offices outside Hong Kong are in parallel identifying suppliers of surgical masks in their respective regions.


In terms of local production, the Correctional Services Department will try to extend production of masks to 24 hours, increasing the production from 1.1 million to 1.8 million per month, while the Government has contacted the only local producer of surgical masks, which has already boosted its output from 800,000 a month to 1.6 million.


Customs is also conducting citywide operations to combat masks with false origin claims, non-compliance with consumer goods safety standards and false trademarks.


Regarding rumours claiming that the Government is hoarding a large number of masks, that the Home Affairs Department would distribute masks or even that the Chief Executive had approved the transfer of masks to Mainland authorities, the Government clarified that there was absolutely no truth in them.


The Government said it will always take the health of Hong Kong people as the first consideration and that it fully understands and will do its best to respond to public concerns about the supply of masks.

Back to top