Tycoon donates 250,000 face masks in coronavirus fight

February 18, 2020 15:01
The Li Ka Shing Foundation said the face masks will be distributed to 13 social welfare organizations and six homes for the elderly. Photo: HKEJ

Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing is donating 250,000 surgical masks for the underprivileged amid the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak in the city.

The Li Ka Shing Foundation, a charitable organization founded by the tycoon, said the face masks would be distributed to 13 social welfare organizations and six homes for the elderly, starting on Monday, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The foundation said it has been sourcing the masks, along with other protective clothing, from suppliers around the world, and the first batch of masks arrived on Monday.

The masks, based on a photo on the foundation's Facebook page, were made by Harada, a Japanese company.

The move came after the foundation last week donated HK$100 million (US$12.9 million) to Wuhan, the capital of central China's Hubei province and the epicenter of the Covid-19 outbreak.

According to the press release, the target beneficiaries of the face masks include low-income patients and their caretakers, children with cancer and their parents, persons with disabilities or undergoing rehabilitation, grassroots communities, senior citizens who are living alone and the volunteers who support them, as well as the elderly in nursing homes and their caretakers.

The foundation refrained from disclosing the names of the 13 social welfare organizations to “avoid a strain on their resources”, but it said it believes the “13 social welfare organizations, who have long served Hong Kong, will best effect the most efficient plan for fast and fair distribution [of the face masks] to those in need”.

Watsons Group, the retail chain owned by CK Hutchison Holdings (00001.HK), had earlier donated 150,000 face masks, which were also distributed by social welfare organizations to needy senior citizens in the city.

Aside from face masks, the foundation is also sourcing personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline healthcare teams in the city, adding that it is following the guidelines provided by the Hospital Authority "to ensure that the [items] are in line with the HA's standards and specifications".

The first shipment of PPE “is purchased with the support of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Dalhousie University in Canada and a gift of N95 medical masks from the [United Arab Emirates] is scheduled to arrive this week”, the foundation said.

The distribution of the PPE will be coordinated with the Hospital Authority.

Regarding current difficulties by members of the public to secure surgical masks at reasonable prices, the foundation said: “The global supply of face masks is stabilizing. The government is working hard to source surgical masks and has announced the distribution of masks to underprivileged communities.”

The foundation “will follow the situation closely and is on standby for further action”, it said.

Meanwhile, Bank of China (Hong Kong) said it will donate HK$13 million to the Community Chest of Hong Kong with the aim of providing financial support for the grassroots, medical workers, Covid-19 patients and their families.

In addition, according to the Community Chest, there will be a special fund to help confirmed Covid-19 patients to cope with financial difficulties. The Community Chest will give HK$50,000 to each family of the deceased and HK$20,000 for each confirmed case.

Bank of Asia announced that The Bank of East Asia Charitable Foundation Limited, its wholly-owned charitable foundation, will donate HK$2 million to 10 non-governmental organizations to fight the Covid-19 outbreak. The initiative is expected to benefit at least 20,000 underprivileged people, it said.

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The masks, based on a photo on the Li Ka Shing Foundation's Facebook page, were made by Harada, a Japanese company.