Masks Pose Heatstroke Risk As Mercury Soars

Masks pose heatstroke risk as mercury soars

Temperatures soared on Tuesday across wide areas in Japan. The country is no stranger to blazing summers, but the need to wear facemasks due to the coronavirus poses a health risk all of its own -- heatstroke.

A high-pressure system pushed temperatures up. The mercury topped 35 degrees Celsius in a part of Fukuoka Prefecture in the southwest, and some other areas.

Tokyo had its hottest day of the year, at 31 degrees. Still, many people were seen wearing masks regardless of how it felt.

One woman said, "I feel like I'm in a sauna."

Another woman said, "It's uncomfortable because it makes the area around my mouth sweaty."

Thermal imaging shows how much a mask can affect the temperature of the face. Without one, the mouth area was about 36 degrees. But put one on and it'll climb to 40 degrees within one minute.

A number of businesses are producing masks with summer in mind, including this shirt maker. Breathable and quick-drying, the first batch of 300 sold out immediately.

Takeda Masaaki of Faire Murakami said, "Our customers asked us to make cooler masks. We hope they feel more comfortable with our products."

Government officials advise people in masks to frequently drink fluids and avoid heavy exercise. They also say masks can be removed outdoors if an appropriate social distance can be maintained.

On Tuesday, 44 new cases of the virus have been reported in Japan. The nation's total is now 17,267. The death toll is 920.