Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong has said that his pro-democracy Demosisto group has purchased 100,000 face masks from the US for Hongkongers. They will be given to district councillors to hand to those in need.
There have been 49 confirmed cases of the new SARS-like “covid-19” virus in Hong Kong, including one death. Globally, there have been 45,000 cases and over 1,100 deaths.
Stocks of surgical masks around the city dried up several weeks ago with orders from overseas often cancelled before they were shipped.
Wong said Tobias Leung – a standing committee member of Demosisto – started contacting mask manufacturers at the end of last month.
Wong thanked contacts in Washington for securing the masks, including overseas Hongkongers and groups such as the Hong Kong Democracy Council and NY4HK.
“Hongkongers owe them our deep gratitude for their generous support. When the Hong Kong government is reducing into a failed state and completely mishandles the coronavirus [outbreak], it proves once again that a robust civil society with strong international networks is the only way out for Hong Kong,” Wong said.
“We gathered a large amount of funds locally so that we could transfer them to the US in order to block orders from mainland China from using cash to race against us,” Wong said.
He added that there was a lack of cargo planes available and they had to pay more than triple the normal price to fly the masks to Hong Kong.
“We chose to bear the transport cost ourselves, without doing a crowdfunding campaign, so that Hong Kong people do not have to buy expensive masks,” he said.
The masks will be delivered to district councillors to help poor people, street cleaners and the elderly, Wong said. The rest will be sold online at a price lower than the cost, he added.