The coronavirus diseases (COVID-19) is spreading rapidly throughout the globe leading to many folks purchasing surgical face masks.

The Associated Press reported at the weekend that factories which manufacture face masks can’t keep up with demand. This despite the World Health Organisation (WHO) advising that only people with respiratory symptoms or those suspected of having a COVID-19 infection should be wearing a mask.

The shortage of surgical face masks appears to have become a serious problem however as Japanese electronics maker Sharp has this morning announced it will begin making surgical face masks.

A report by the Associated Press via The Washington Post reveals that Sharp will use its Mie Prefecture plant to manufacture surgical masks. Production will begin by the end of March with Sharp hoping to produce 150 000 masks a day before increasing that figure to 500 000 a day.

Sharp believes its plant – which is usually where its televisions are made – is perfect for mask creation and it makes a degree of sense. Electronics factories are usually incredibly clean and what could be better for making masks to keep others safe from your germs.

As of 1st March, the WHO reports that COVID-19 has lead to 87 137 infections and as many as 2 977 deaths.

There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Africa as of time of writing although two South Africans aboard the Princess Diamond cruise ship in Japan tested positive for the virus. Those two South Africans will be able to return home when they have been cleared of the virus.

Health minister Zweli Mkhize said at the weekend that 151 South Africans living in Wuhan, China are due to be brought home according to a News24 report.

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