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HK customs finds 4 more face masks with high bacterial content

18 April 2020

By The SUN

These masks found with high bacterial content are being sold online as well 

Customs authorities have advised the public to stop using four brands of surgical masks found to carry high levels of bacteria.

Listed in the warning published on Friday, Apr 17 are the masks labeled Atos, Masker Bedah Karet, Q-Frezz and AdPro.

On Mar 20, four other mask brands were also identified as having bacterial count that exceeded the maximum permitted limit. They were: Bre-easy, Softy Hygiene, Khatraco, and Lastik Halkali.
All the named brands of surgical masks are packed in boxes of 50 pieces each, and are sold for between $150 and $280. All the samples tested had no indication as to where they were manufactured.

Some of the brands have been advertised in online shopping groups on Facebook where many of the members are Filipinos.

Also warned were pharmacies or traders found selling the unsanitary and potentially hazardous face masks.

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A press release from Customs said the four brands recently tested had exceeded the maximum permitted limit of bacterial count by 0.2 to 1.35 times, in violation of the Consumer Goods Safety Ordinance (CGSO).

The first batch was found to have a bacterial load of  between 0.4 to 11.5 times the permitted limit.

Following the release of the test results, Customs officers conducted a search of four shops located in Causeway Bay, North Point and Sheung Shui, comprising a pharmacy, a grocery, general merchandise, and a fruit store.
Four people – three men and a woman – were arrested, aged between 34 and 54. They are still detained for investigation.

A further investigation was carried out in various retail shops in several districts but no more masks bearing the indicated labels were found.

However, Customs is still investigating the source of the dubious masks, and has not ruled out further arrests.

In addition, the four kinds of surgical masks will undergo further testing to establish the types of bacteria in them.

Customs says those found selling these masks will be prosecuted

The inspection of surgical masks being sold to the public is part of a large-scale, territory-wide special operation codenamed “Guardian” which Customs launched on Jan 27 as the Covid-19 epidemic began to spread.

To date, Customs says it has already tested a total of 111 samples for bacterial count, and 103 of them were found to be up to standard.

Customs advises the public to observe the following tips when purchasing and using surgical masks:
* Read carefully the instructions on the packages in the purchasing process;
* Check if there is any damage or dirt on the packages and 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 only at reputable retail shops.

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