Razer has devoted some of its manufacturing lines to produce surgical masks, according to a Twitter thread from CEO Min-Liang Tan. The company will donate up to 1 million masks around the world as countries continue working to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Tan says Razer has been in touch with authorities in Singapore, where one of its two headquarters are located, to donate the first shipments. The company’s 18 offices worldwide are contacting local governments and health authorities about potential donations as well. This step is “the first step of many” that Razer will take to combat the pandemic, according to Tan.
So I haven’t had much sleep over the past couple of days to get this initiative up and running, but I’m happy to be able to announce this on behalf of the team here at @Razer
— Min-Liang Tan (@minliangtan) March 19, 2020
“While there has been incredible demand for our products during this time with many staying home to avoid the crowds (and to play games), the team at Razer understands that all of us have a part to play in fighting the virus — no matter which industry we come from,” Tan tweeted.
The action follows a statement from the World Health Organization (WHO) earlier this month in which the agency warned that health care professionals are facing shortages of masks as well as gloves and other protective gear. The WHO estimates that hospitals around the world need 89 million masks per month, and it has asked supply manufacturers to increase production by 40 percent.
“Industry and governments must act quickly to boost supply, ease export restrictions, and put measures in place to stop speculation and hoarding,” it said in the statement. “We can’t stop COVID-19 without protecting health workers first.”
Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not recommended that the general public purchase surgical masks, panicked buyers have stockpiled them anyway. As a result, the masks are now six times more expensive than they were at the start of the outbreak.
Meanwhile, workers at some hospitals have been forced to reuse masks and other protective materials, The Washington Post reported. This week, the CDC recommended that health care professionals use bandannas to cover their faces “as a last resort.”
TV manufacturer Sharp also recently announced that it would start producing masks in one of its Chinese factories. The company said it could produce as many as 500,000 masks per day.