A picture taken in Zagreb on March 3, 2020, shows protective face masks designed by Croatian designer Zoran Aragovic. (AFP/Denis Lovrovic)
Inspired by the global scare over the novel coronavirus, a Croatian fashion designer has launched his own "cheerful" collection of virus masks.
They offer no protection against the disease which continues to spread around the world but that has not put off buyers.
"The idea for a designer mask was spontaneous," Zoran Aragovic, owner of the BiteMyStyle brand, told AFP.
"Every morning while having coffee we were commenting on the coronavirus and lack of masks.
"I was joking that I would make a colorful, cheerful mask, like my fashion creations, and put it on my Instagram," said the 39-year-old from Zagreb.
But Aragovic's cotton mask, inspired like his clothes by Disney characters, pop art and comic books, immediately sparked an interest across the country.
Dozens of the masks, which cost around nine euros ($10), have been sold since he started production some two weeks ago and people continue to order them, the designer said.
Aragovic, who believes that the best way to fight against fear of the virus is with positive items such as clothes, stressed that "these are not medical masks but cheerful fashion accessories".
Croatia has registered nine cases of the virus which has killed over 3,200 people across the world.
More than 94,000 have been infected in 81 countries and territories, according to AFP's latest toll based on official sources at 1200 GMT Wednesday.
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