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Virus-induced waste piles up, threatening environment

(Reuters-Yonhap)
(Reuters-Yonhap)

Wearing masks has become a “new normal” due to the COVID-19 outbreak. One side effect is the waste resulting from the growing use of face masks.

For instance, disposable masks have washed up on the shores of Hong Kong’s Soko Islands, raising new concerns.

Gary Stokes of marine conservation organization Ocean’s Asia said he picked up 70 masks on a 100-meter stretch of one beach, only to find 30 more a week later. According to Stokes, the masks appear to have come from Hong Kong and mainland China to the uninhabited islands.

Demand for medical supplies has surged in many parts of the world recently. In China, more than 2,500 companies jumped into mask production, producing 116 million masks a day.

Experts said that COVID-19 waste such as masks and latex gloves carelessly discarded in streets can end up in the sea. Environmental groups have been struggling to clean up waste that can threaten marine life.

By Lee Jong-min (ljmclaire@heraldcorp.com)
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