Saigon Man Invents Free Face Mask ATM To Help Residents Protect Themselves From The Coronavirus

Ho Chi Minh City has a face mask ATM

The COVID-19 outbreak in Vietnam continues to be on the rise as the country sees a daily surge in the number of community cases.

As a result, face masks, the most basic preventive measure against coronavirus, have become indispensable for residents across the country when leaving their homes. Saigon and Hai Phong are some of the cities that have made it compulsory to wear masks in public.

To ensure that every Saigon resident has masks to wear, Hoang Anh Tuan, a local entrepreneur, has invented an ATM that disburses free face masks to those in need.

The “father” of the face mask ATM is also the inventor of the rice ATM

Staff members checking the ATM before operating it
Image credit: Lao Dong

Hoang Tuan Anh, the inventor of the face mask ATM, is also the inventor of the rice ATM that debuted earlier this year.

The face mask ATM went into operation on 6th August. It’s situated on 204B Vuon Lai Street in Tan Phu District, the same location where the rice ATM used to be located.

Image credit: Nguoi Lao Dong

To ensure safety for all users, the ATM is installed with a facial recognition feature, which automatically disburses face masks without the users having to touch any button. It also has a hand sanitizing dispenser, which lets users sanitize their hands.

According to Tuan Anh, he’s collected 8,000 reusable face masks from donors so far, which are enough to give out to 2,600 people. Each person can receive 3 face masks, which can be washed and reused for at least 30 times each.

Image credit: Nguoi Lao Dong

“Medical equipment such as face masks have become more scarce and costly these days. The ATM will operate from 10AM until 4PM every Thursday, until it runs out of masks,” Tuan Anh said.

Image credit: Nguoi Lao Dong

When asked whether he planned to operate the rice ATM again, Tuan Anh said that he would if Saigon goes into a nationwide social distancing period.

Ho Chi Minh City Department of Industry and Trade publishes a list of verified mask vendors across the city

A person buying masks in a mart
Image credit: Cong An

Since wearing a mask in public has become mandatory across Ho Chi Minh City, everybody is expected to buy and use face masks when leaving their homes. For those of us who’re fortunate enough to be able to pay for masks, price jacking is still worrying because masks are after all still a regular necessity.

That’s why on 5th August, HCMC Department of Industry and Trade published a list of vendors in every district who sell quality face masks at reasonable prices.  These include convenient stores and marts that can be widely found such as Circle K, Familymart, GS25, Ministop, Familymart, BigC, Co.op Mart, and Vinmart.

The detailed list of mask vendors by district can be found here. With thousands of mask vendors dotted around the city, it’d be impossible to find an excuse to not wear masks in public places now.

Saigon residents can now collect free reusable masks

The coronavirus has affected everyone’s lives, most noticeably in job losses for many. However, amid this crisis, we have seen Vietnamese come together to help the more vulnerable in our community.

From handing out free food to implementing ATMs that disburse free rice and face masks, everybody is joining in a common endeavor.

Now that face masks are no longer scanty, let’s do what we can to alleviate the COVID-19 outbreak by wearing masks when in public places, sanitizing our hands often, and refraining from gathering in groups.

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Cover image adapted from: Nguoi Lao Dong

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Josee Ng

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