Shenzhen has scaled up its mask lottery as hundreds of thousands of migrants return to the city to resume work. Local authorities in the southern Chinese technology hub have been giving away 200,000 free masks per day through a lottery system since late February, and will now raise that figure to 300,000, distributed among 60,000 recipients.
Shenzhen residents with a valid mailing address can partake in the draw by registering through the official iShenzhen WeChat account, which normally operates as a platform for official announcements and city services such as utility payments.
The system will yield 60,000 random recipients every day at 10:00 a.m. Those chosen will be informed by SMS and receive five masks each by mail. Participants need only register once to be counted in future rounds and will have to wait ten days before joining the pool again if they have been chosen.
“I haven’t won the lottery since I came to Shenzhen on February 25,” said Liu, a student originally from Harbin who studies in Hong Kong. With his university suspending classes for the spring semester, he chose to wait in nearby Shenzhen and take online classes. The Shenzhen government requires every resident to input their information and travel history on iShenzhen, which is how he became aware of the mask lottery.
“I have a friend who won the free masks. I think I just have bad luck,” he said.
Shenzhen, a global manufacturing hub, has started to loosen epidemic emergency measures to allow more flexibility in transportation. According to Shenzhen traffic police data, 420,900 cars were tracked on roads in the city during morning peak hours on Monday, up 58% compared to a week ago, data from Thompson Reuters shows.
Despite this, Julia Feng, who works for a local media outlet in Shenzhen, told KrASIA about the difficulties in securing masks in the city.
“In general, there are limited ways to purchase masks. If you want to buy masks at pharmacies, you need a reservation in advance and it’s on a first come, first served basis,” she said. “Online mask order systems have been adopted by most cities, including Beijing, Hangzhou, and Shanghai.”
Feng and her family members also joined the mask lottery and have yet to be chosen.
China has been gearing up to expand the production capacity of masks to meet the surging demand.
The daily production capacity of masks in China has more than quintupled from 21 million on February 1, reaching 110 million units by February 29, including medical and non-medical grade masks, state-owned media outlet Xinhua reported. Before the epidemic, China produced about half of the world’s masks with a daily output of 20 million units, according to the report.
Shenzhen has confirmed 418 cases of infection since the outbreak began, with no new cases added for several days. However, a man who arrived in Hong Kong by plane from London and entered Shenzhen by boat was confirmed to be infected earlier this week.