The Osaka city government requested Tuesday that citizens offer unused raincoats as an alternative to protective gear that is in short supply at medical institutions amid a surge in coronavirus infections.
In issuing the request, Mayor Ichiro Matsui said medical professionals at some institutions in the major Japanese city have no choice but to wear trash bags when treating patients.
"If doctors get infected, we can never beat coronavirus," Matsui said. "We're totally short of (protective gear), so we'd like (people) to offer as much (such gear) as they have."
Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura made a similar call to citizens in the western Japan prefecture.
Matsui said a person wears and takes off a trash bag from the head, raising the risk of infection because virus attached to the surface of the bag could be transmitted through the nose and mouth of the person.
The mayor quoted doctors as saying a raincoat that opens in the front would be useful in the fight against the pneumonia-causing vuris.
The Osaka city government said it will accept raincoats of any type and color but they have to be unused.
"We'd like to seek cooperation from those who have raincoats that have never been used," Matsui said. "And for business operators that have a stock (of such raincoats), we'd like to purchase them at a regular price if possible."
In coordination with the prefectural government, the city government will collect raincoats at the city office building, ward offices and branch offices of the prefectural government.
As Osaka Prefecture is under a state of emergency issued by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on April 7, together with Tokyo and five other prefectures, the Osaka prefectural government will accept raincoats by post.
While Japan's scarcity of protective gear is becoming more severe, health minister Katsunobu Kato and industry minister Hiroshi Kajiyama asked industry organizations last week that companies produce more facial masks and other medical necessities.