SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son on Thursday tweeted an offer to donate a million free face masks to help fight the coronavirus outbreak a day after Twitter users criticised his proposal to give away test kits as an unnecessary burden on clinics and hospitals.
"I will donate a million masks," Son tweeted in reply to a suggestion from one person, who identified themselves as a dentist in Kobe western Japan.
The coronavirus pandemic has prompted the SoftBank Group chief executive, who has 2.4 million followers, to begin tweeting after a three-year hiatus from the social network.
"I would like to provide the opportunity for free PCR testing for those who are worried about the novel coronavirus," Son (@masason) tweeted on Wednesday. "First, for one million people. We are preparing how they can apply," he said, referring to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests which can detect very early infections.
He also tweeted an illustration of the PCR scheme under consideration, in which a person could take a nasal swab at home and mail it to a lab which would test the specimen send back the results.
But about two hours after his first tweet announcing the PCR test plan, he took to Twitter again to say he might reconsider given the negative feedback. His proposal was met with criticism that it would overburden medical facilities and workers.
"Since it's been badly received, maybe I won't do it..." he said.
Son said he had visited Japan's health ministry on Wednesday as he wanted to cooperate so that the testing would not cause any burden.
The coronavirus has infected more than 126,000 people and killed 4,624, according to a Reuters tally.
Almost 1,400 of those cases are in Japan, where 22 people have died, according to public broadcaster NHK.
© Thomson Reuters 2020