An Osaka Prefecture-based toothpick manufacturer has released a new product to help people reduce the risk of contracting the novel coronavirus through contact with surfaces -- wooden sticks for pressing buttons in elevators and other public places.
Marketed as "noncontact sticks from a toothpick maker," the product developed by Kikusui Sangyo uses recycled wood from Hokkaido difficult to process for other purposes after being exposed to moisture during manufacturing.
The product, which features the tagline "come, press to your heart's content," comes with an additional container to hold the disposable sticks after use.
One set contains around 120 sticks, each measuring roughly 7.5 centimeters in length.
The retail price of 568 yen ($5.30), excluding tax, is one more than the number 567, which phonetically sounds like "corona" in Japanese, to signify that people will not lose to the pneumonia-causing virus.
Akie Suenobu, managing director of the company based in Kawachinagano said she got the idea for the product after seeing residents of Wuhan -- the central Chinese city where the coronavirus was first detected last December -- use toothpicks to press elevator buttons.
"I want to send the message that even a small-town factory hit hard by the novel coronavirus can turn the tables with just one idea," she said.
The product can be purchased on Amazon and other major online shopping sites.