• Coronavirus

Aomori: Inventor fashions special masks for children to prevent COVID infections

AOMORI — When lunchtime came at Uramachi Elementary School in Aomori Prefecture, students took hold of their oval-shaped plastic masks. The masks fell forward and snapped open, revealing their mouths and allowing the students to eat while still wearing them.

The elastic band passes through the bottom part of the mask, attaching it to the chin, and hooks over the ears. There is no band passing through the upper section, so the mask can be easily opened and closed with one hand.

Teruo Narita, an 85-year-old inventor living in Aomori City, came up with the mask to prevent children from being infected with the novel coronavirus, as there were no prospects for vaccinating children under 12 years old.

Narita proposed the idea to the school, and 38 third-graders tried out the mask for a week from Dec. 15.

When Narita visited the school on Dec. 20, he was impressed by how the students opened the masks only when they brought food to their mouths, and kept them closed the rest of the time to prevent droplets from spreading.

One student said: “The strings are adjustable, so it’s easy to use. I want other students in other grades to use it, too.”

“I just wanted to protect my grandchildren from the novel coronavirus. That’s all,” Narita said of his motive to invent the mask. He will improve the mask by asking the students their opinions, he added. The mask not only protects from the virus, but also shows Mr. Narita’s love for children.