The police were accused on Friday of providing substandard face masks to people who were arrested near Prince Edward MTR Station earlier this week.
A group of people had gathered on Tuesday evening to mark seven months since police officers stormed the station, beating and pepper-spraying people inside as they made arrests over anti-government protests.
The dozens of people arrested on Tuesday said they were taken to Mong Kok and Hung Hom police stations where their own face masks were confiscated.
One of the arrestees said he was “shocked and angry” that they were instead given masks "as thin as paper".
“Do we not deserve face masks that are up to standard?” he asked, adding that some of the other detainees just took the face masks off, with some of the masks already falling to bits.
A Mong Kok district councillor, Ben Lam, said he took 250 surgical masks to the police stations, but was told to remove the metal strips inside them before they could be distributed to the arrested people.
At a news conference, he showed a face mask given by the police to one of those arrested, saying it is only 2-ply and of poor quality.
“It’s as thin as paper, I think it’s fair for me to say it’s a paper mask,” he said.
Lam said it is a basic human right of arrestees to wear face masks amid the coronavirus outbreak, adding that substandard face masks also put police officers at risk.
“No one knows if the arrestees are carriers of coronavirus, they could have infected the policemen,” he said.
Responding to an RTHK enquiry, the police said the metal strips in the face masks must be removed for safety reasons.
The force later said that since Thursday, it has been providing those arrested with the CSI masks produced by the city's prisoners.
Last updated: 2020-04-03 HKT 17:14