Two mask production lines approved by Hong Kong government, with five others being considered as city races to stem coronavirus tide

Cannix Yau

The Hong Kong government has approved two local production lines for masks amid the coronavirus epidemic, and is considering another five applications under a HK$1.5 billion subsidy to deal with a supply shortage.

The first two successful applicants were Topwill Passion Limited and Shang Manufactory Limited, which might receive funding of up to HK$2.5 million and HK$2 million respectively according to their committed output, the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau said on Friday.

Bureau chief and commerce minister Edward Yau Tang-wah said he was also in discussions with applicants over the production of masks for children.

Edward Yau, secretary for commerce and economic development, says he is discussing with applicants how more masks can be produced for children. Photo: K.Y. Cheng

“The scheme could ease the shortage of masks in Hong Kong. Apart from the standard masks for adults, some applicants have indicated their interests in producing masks for different parties such as children.

“I will be in talks with them to see if they can do this,” Yau said.

Under the HK$1.5 billion subsidy scheme, manufacturers setting up a production line capable of delivering at least 500,000 masks a month would be given up to HK$3 million. Each subsequent production line in the same plant would then be subsidised by up to HK$2 million.

The scheme is rolled out under a HK$30 billion government package to lift the city out of the shadows of the coronavirus epidemic.

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Among the successful applicants, Topwill Passion is expected to supply an average of 2 million masks to the government every month starting from April 20, and produce a further 250,000 masks for the local market on average monthly.

Shang Manufactory is expected to supply an average of 800,000 masks to the government every month starting from May 5.

The bureau said as of Thursday, the scheme had attracted a total of 82 applications, and apart from the two approved applicants, five others had been confirmed to have met all criteria of the scheme.

Another 70 applications did not make the mark, and an extra five were still under a verification process, it added.

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The bureau said the actual amount of each subsidy depended on the manufacturer’s eventual expenditure on production equipment and the setting up of a venue and cleanroom facilities, as well as testing and standards compliance.

Apart from having a site and the relevant facilities ready, manufacturers are also required to secure production equipment and raw materials.

The application period ends on December 31 or when all 20 slots for subsidies are allocated.

According to the company registry, Shang Manufactory’s director is Dr Cheung Kwong-ming, the chairman of toy manufacturer Tsuen Lee Group with its production base on the mainland. The group’s subsidiary Shang Healthcare Ltd is a Hong Kong-based company focusing on health care products including masks.

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