Coronavirus: HK Science Park to get mask-making facility with goal of producing 100,000 a day amid shortage

11-Feb-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Hong Kong’s technology hub is set to become a base for surgical mask production, with a target of 100,000 masks a day, as the city struggles to meet demand amid the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

The publicly owned Science and Technology Parks Corporation on Sunday secured an 8,000 sq ft space from tenant Farm66, a vertical vegetable firm, from its industrial estate in Tai Po to make way for the project.

The hoped-for number of masks could potentially exceed that currently produced by the Correctional Services Department depending on the number of days it is in operation.

Farm66 co-founder Gordon Tam Chi-ho told the Post that a yet to be named third party would install production lines in the space.

“It will be done through automation,” Tam said. “We are happy to surrender the space and put on hold our expansion plan to make way for the mask production, which is important to our city.”

Lawmaker Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, who is a member of the city’s Executive Council, told the Post that while he could not yet confirm the Farm66 deal, he had been actively coordinating with the business sector over a mask-producing facility.

“We are interested in the Science Park space and have been in talks with the government and relevant organisations in identifying a site,” he said, adding that the plan is to set up an automated production line which will pump out 100,000 masks a day.

We are already sourcing machineries and raw materials, hopefully the production lines will be ready in four or five weeks

Lawmaker Jeffrey Lam

“We are already sourcing machineries and raw materials, hopefully the production lines will be ready in four or five weeks,” he said. “The masks will be given away for free to medical staff, the under privileged and the elderly.”

Farm66 grows vegetables in neat rows of racks, filled with potted greens lit by low-energy light-emitting diode lamps and connected to fish tanks on the floor in an air-conditioned environment.

News of the mask production scheme comes as eight more patients in Hong Kong tested positive in preliminary exams on Sunday. The city has recorded 26 confirmed cases of infections so far.

Masks have been in short supply globally, with Hongkongers queuing overnight and braving cold weather to buy the protective gear in the past couple of weeks.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor promised on Saturday to raise the production volume of masks being made by inmates from 1.8 million to 2.5 million a month soon. She added that the existing stock in the city would only last one more month.

The Post has contacted Science and Technology Park for comment.


Category: Hong Kong

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