The Ministry of Economic Affairs yesterday denied a local newspaper report that the ministry has banned exports of surgical masks amid the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic.
"The report is not true," the ministry's Board of Foreign Trade said in a statement yesterday.
According to the results of some studies by doctors in Hong Kong, face masks made of fabric are essential protection against SARS for healthcare workers, but paper ones should be avoided because they can be vulnerable to droplet transmission of the virus.
There is little or no evidence to suggest that mask-wearing by the general public offers any benefit whatsoever.
Officials said that the shortage has now been resolved.