Asian demand for face masks soars on fears of Chinese virus

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Boat passengers on a jetty wear face masks in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020 to protect themselves from new virus infection. Panic and pollution drive the market for protective face masks, so business is booming in Asia, where fear of the coronavirus from China is straining supplies and helping make mask-wearing the new normal. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

TOKYO (AP) – Panic and pollution are driving a surging market for protective face masks in Asia, where fear of the virus from China is straining supplies and helping make mask-wearing the new normal.

Demand for face masks and hand sanitizing liquid has soared, as both local residents and visitors from China stock up on such products as a precaution. Factories are rushing to boost production as the number of infections and deaths from the new virus first found in the central Chinese city of Wuhan climbs. In some parts of Asia, wearing of surgical masks has become mandatory, for now.

(Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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