As Japan prepares for another sizzling summer, health experts are advising people to take extra precautions against heat-related illnesses amid growing fears that masks worn to ward off the coronavirus might increase cases of heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

Such concerns have led to initiatives aimed at reducing the risk of heat exhaustion from mask-linked breathing difficulties this summer. A knitwear manufacturer in Yamagata Prefecture has created reusable cloth masks that are cooled and sold in vending machines. They are proving a hit with residents.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is urging the public to adopt a new lifestyle even after national pandemic restrictions are lifted and is advising that people keep wearing masks for protection.