A ‘face mask ATM’ started operating in Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City on Thursday, providing citizens with free masks in order to encourage safety amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The machine is an initiative launched by Hoang Tuan Anh, a local resident who earlier introduced the widely praised free ‘rice ATM’ for people affected by the pandemic.
Rather than cash, Anh’s new homemade ATM doles out face masks for those in need.
The machine can detect motion and is controlled by a volunteer who gets an alert on a smartphone app when an individual activates the sensor.
The volunteer can then use the app to release a mask from the machine.
The machine either gives out one cloth face mask per individual that can be washed and reused 20-30 times or a batch of several face masks that can each be reused 3-4 times.
People in need can visit the ‘face mask ATM’ at 204B Vuon Lai Street in Tan Phu District.
|A woman puts on a face mask she has just received from Huynh Tuan Anh’s ‘face mask ATM’ at 204B Vuon Lai Street in Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City, August 6, 2020. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre
Currently, Tuan Anh has collected over 10,000 face masks through donations and is expecting to continue receiving support from the community.
Previously, Anh’s ‘rice ATM’ in Ho Chi Minh City inspired similar machines to be set up in Hanoi, Thua Thien-Hue Province, and Da Nang City.
Anh said he plans to put the ‘rice ATM’ into operation again in Da Nang in collaboration with a government unit in the central Vietnamese city, now a COVID-19 outbreak epicenter with 192 active infections and six deaths.
The city is currently under 15 days of enhanced social distancing rules which began on July 28 as a means of stemming the spread of the viral disease.
|A man receives face masks from Huynh Tuan Anh’s ‘face mask ATM’ at 204B Vuon Lai Street in Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City, August 6, 2020. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre
Vietnam has logged 717 COVID-19 cases, with 381 recoveries and nine deaths as of Thursday morning.
As many as 327 patients are still in treatment.
Ho Chi Minh City has documented eight local infections since the detection of a COVID-19 patient in Da Nang on July 25, which ended Vietnam’s streak of 99 days without a case in the community.
The southern metropolis has started fining people who fail to wear a face mask in public from Wednesday, with violators required to pay between VND100,000 (US$4) and VND300,000 ($13).
|A banner introducing Huynh Tuan Anh’s ‘face mask ATM’ is hung at 204B Vuon Lai Street in Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City, August 2020. Photo: Tuan Anh / Tuoi Tre