Mass mask production in China, but should you wear one?

In China, mass production of face masks to try to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The Government has been pushing manufacturers to increase production due to rising demand.

And the number they can make in one factory alone is staggering.

(SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) A 50-YEAR-OLD MASK FACTORY WORKER, WANG XIAOMING, SAYING:

"I work on 25,000 masks for one shift. It's kind of tiring but we have no choice when facing epidemic situation. We must produce more masks."

It's not hard to see why they're making so many.

On Friday, long queues snaked around pharmacies in neighbouring Hong Kong - residents desperate to get hold of one.

But confusion is now spreading over whether people should wear a mask in the first place.

Friday's edition of Singapore's main newspaper told readers not to wear one if you are well.

And Australia and Taiwan have said healthy people don't need one.

But Australia has also released one million masks from the national medical stockpile.

And Taiwan has imposed a ban on exporting masks - and its railway administration said if the virus continues to spread, it will refuse passengers who aren't wearing one.

In Hong Kong, a lawmaker who chairs the city's government health services panel was criticised after she shared a video showing people how to steam and re-use disposable face masks.

There's been unusual advice in India, where the government suggested a traditional concoction that includes ginger and holy basil as protection.

And in Myanmar, a minister was rebuked for sharing a Facebook post that advised people to eat more onions.

Back in China, the mask production line continues apace.

Official guidance from the World Health Organization makes no mention of wearing a face mask to protect against the virus - but its website doesn't specifically advise against them.

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