Panasonic Corp. will begin producing face masks at the end of May as supplies run short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The electronics giant will initially supply them to employees of group firms and hospitals, which fear the internal spread of the novel coronavirus that causes the disease.
To produce the masks, Panasonic said Monday it will make use of the clean-room environment at its audio-video equipment manufacturing plant in Okayama Prefecture. Mask output capacity is estimated at 100,000 per day.
In addition, the company plans to donate its Ziaino air cleaner to medical institutions and offer other means of support for efforts to fight the deadly virus, including making its clean rooms available for the production of medical equipment.
The move by Panasonic follows a decision by Sharp Corp. to produce masks. The electronics industry is well-versed in making very sensitive products in extremely clean environments free of dust, fine particles and microbes.
Sharp began selling its masks to general consumers on Tuesday via its online commerce site. A pack of 50 masks is priced at ¥2,980.
To deliver to as many people as possible, Sharp requires customers to register with the site and says that they are only permitted to buy one pack at a time. They have to wait at least three days before they can make another purchase.
Sharp has said its production capability is currently around 150,000 masks per day and that it is aiming for a daily capacity of 500,000.
In a related development, Kentaro Ohyama, chairman of household goods supplier Iris Ohyama Inc., said Monday his company will boost monthly mask output at its plant in Miyagi Prefecture to 150 million units from the initially planned 60 million.
“The production increase can be achieved by July or August,” he told economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura during a teleconference.