The Japanese government is considering postponing the launch of the distribution of some 80 million additional cloth face masks to nursing care homes and other facilities, health ministry officials have said.
It is now uncertain when the government will start the distribution program, which was initially slated to begin this month to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to the officials.
The necessity of the project has been questioned as the supply-demand balance for face masks has improved in the country.
The ministry had planned to finish the additional mask distribution by the end of September.
The government’s distribution of cloth masks to all households in Japan was completed in June, but met criticism over the slow distribution and the supply of some defective masks.
The government is also close to finishing the distribution of a total of some 60 million cloth masks to nursing care homes, facilities for people with disabilities, kindergartens and other establishments on two occasions, which started in April and in June. Including the coming program, workers and users of these facilities are expected to receive seven pieces each.
According to the ministry, the value of the contract for the project of giving out masks to nursing care and other facilities stood at around ¥24.7 billion and that for the all-household distribution program at some ¥26 billion.
Your news needs your support
Since the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis, The Japan Times has been providing free access to crucial news on the impact of the novel coronavirus as well as practical information about how to cope with the pandemic. Please consider subscribing today so we can continue offering you up-to-date, in-depth news about Japan.