Hong Kong Customs has found faulty surgical masks and has warned the public to stop using them.
Over the weekend, as part of an onging operation to inspect personal protective gear sold in the city, they found four types of masks had exceeded the maximum permitted limit of bacterial counts by 0.4 to 11.5 times.
"Two of the samples are labelled as being manufactured in Turkey and Nepal, while the remaining two had no such labels. It is believed that the two types of surgical masks without labels came from South-east Asian countries, according to initial investigations," they said.
Four directors suspected of violating the Consumer Goods Safety Ordinance (CSGO) were arrested. Three men and one woman, aged between 28 and 40, are now being detained for further investigation and officers are searching for the source of these masks.
Authorities warn that wearing these particular surgical masks for a long period of time may lead to facial discomfort. Elderly or young children, or people with weakened immune systems, are more likely to have respiratory infections in contact with the bacteria, leading to potential health risks.
Customs reminds members of the public to observe the following tips when purchasing and using surgical masks:
- Check the package of surgical masks to see if there is any damage or dirt;
- Stop using surgical masks with stains or odd smells;
- Pay attention to the proper way of using surgical masks;
- Change surgical masks at a suitable time;
- Store surgical masks in dry places; and
- Purchase in reputable retail shops.
Members of the public may report any suspected violation of the CGSO or the Trade Descriptions Ordinance to Customs' 24-hour hotline 2545 6182 or its dedicated crime-reporting email account (firstname.lastname@example.org).