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Adrian Cheng of New World Development has announced a new initiative to help in the battle against the coronavirus: the donation of 10 million medical face masks to be distributed via vending machines.

Scheduled to be operational by the end of this month, 35 vending machines will be placed with NGOs in all 18 districts across Hong Kong, offering a safe and hygienic way to distribute supplies to those in need. More than 40,000 people in low-income communities throughout Hong Kong are expected to benefit.

The move follows an earlier donation from the group of 50 million renminbi and 5.5 million masks to communities in Asia and Europe under the firm’s #LoveWithoutBorders campaign.

“As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to spike globally, Hong Kong is now experiencing a second wave of imported and locally transmitted cases,” Cheng said.

He also added: “It is heart-breaking to see so many people suffer because they simply cannot afford or get a hold of masks, which have become so costly and scarce. Some disadvantaged groups have had to use the same mask repeatedly. By providing a consistent supply of medical face masks and distributing them through these dispensers, we ensure a hygienic and safe way of getting the masks into the hands of those who need them most.”

The eight selected NGOs will provide medical face mask redemption cards or a downloadable mobile app to pre-registered low-income families and communities in need. Those individuals can then exchange a pack of five masks for free from the dispensers every week for 10 consecutive weeks during the opening hours of the centers. Pre-registered “smart redemption cards” or mobile app will be used to eliminate queuing, the company said.

The Hong Kong conglomerate said it is setting up two local mask production lines for launch in mid-April, and another two lines will commence in May. The group expects to produce more than 7 million medical face masks per month when all production lines run at full steam.

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