Photo/Illutration A worker packs masks one by one in Osaki, Miyagi Prefecture, on Feb. 1. (Shigetaka Kodama)

OSAKI, Miyagi Prefecture--A clothing factory here is rapidly boosting production of so-called virus-preventative masks to meet growing demand from consumers in Japan and abroad as coronavirus cases surge around the globe.

The fashionable, multi-patterned masks, which come in a variety of colors, were developed by Gofuku Iryo, a clothing manufacturer based in Hanyu, Saitama Prefecture.

Each mask has six layers of special filters made of materials that the company says prevented entry of almost all viruses they were exposed to in tests.

In January, Gofuku Iryo's mask orders jumped after the new coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan, Hubei province, in central China.

The company said it is receiving nearly three times its usual number of orders from China, South Korea, Vietnam and other countries as well as Japan.

Tsuneo Aoki, the clothing factory's senior managing director, said he is determined to get the orders out.

“The shortage of the masks is likely to continue for a while, Aoki said. But we want to do our best to deliver our masks to elderly people and those who are suffering from diseases.”