Local governments are using the internet to teach residents ways to make their own face masks and disinfectants as stores sell out of such items amid the new coronavirus outbreak.

The moves are aimed at allaying concerns among locals over the COVID-19 virus. Many local governments have been bombarded with complaints from residents, especially about mask shortages.

The health promotion support division of the prefectural government of Oita posted on its website in early February methods for creating do-it-yourself face masks using gauze fabric and elastic bands. It also showed how to disinfect the masks after use.

The instructions were provided in English, Chinese and Korean—reflecting the needs of foreign visitors—as well as in Japanese.

The government of Oita offered similar instructions during the outbreak of a new type of influenza in 2009, which also caused mask shortages. “We made good use of our experience from the new flu,” an official at the division said. “Some people are worried if they don’t have masks.”

The health promotion division of the city of Katsuragi, in Nara Prefecture, also posted instructions for making masks on its website in response to similar complaints by local residents over mask shortages. Materials for the DIY masks can be bought at 100-yen shops, according to the website.

The cities of Gobo, Wakayama Prefecture, and Miyakojima in Okinawa Prefecture, provided instructions on how to make a disinfectant.

The makeshift disinfectant, made by diluting chlorine bleach with water, can be used to wipe doorknobs, tables, chairs and other household items for the purpose of removing the virus. However, a warning was issued that incorrect usage of the liquid disinfectant could lead to health issues.

The cities posted warnings telling residents not to let the liquid directly touch skin, to store it out of the reach of infants and not to mix the solution with acid to prevent toxic gases from being released.

As some 10 people have been confirmed to be infected with the new coronavirus in Wakayama, “there is high interest among citizens” in how they can avoid infection, a Gobo city official said.

“We are distributing flyers containing the information to all households in the city,” the official added.

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