Shortage of face masks? Cabinet exec says people buying more than needed
MANILA, Philippines – The apparent face mask shortage is supposedly caused by people buying more than what their families actually need, a cabinet official said on Tuesday.
Cabinet secretary Karlo Nograles said on Tuesday that this was the reason why medical stores have run out of surgical and N95 masks — a shortage which started since the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed last week that a Chinese national in the Philippines was infected with 2019 Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
“Right now kasi the demand is high, in terms of scarcity kasi, how do you coin it in a medical position? There are medical doctors who are saying that there are certain times, certain moments, and certain circumstances where you should use the face mask,” Nograles said during the Pandesal forum in Quezon City.
“I think the scarcity comes with the problem hoarding, hindi maiwasan na siguro, because it’s creating some sort of panic among our people, there is a tendency for our kababayans, na kung meron silang makuhang supply ng face mask, they purchase more than what is required,” he added.
Nograles then urged the public to avoid purchasing too many masks, especially as health experts say that there is still no need to wear face masks constantly and that the N95 variants should be left to health workers.
He assured though that the government has talked to local manufacturers and importers of face masks about increasing the supply.
“Si (Trade) Secretary Mon Lopez has already spoken to our Philippine manufacturers of face masks, at meron namang commitment for them to increase our supply,” Nograles relayed.
“Kinakausap na rin ni Secretary Mon ang lahat ng mga importers ng face mask for them to also increase their orders, and para dumating dito sa bansa ‘yong additional orders ng face mask,” he added.
Prior to the threat of the 2019-nCoV from Wuhan, China, face masks were already in demand especially in Southern Luzon and Metro Manila after the Taal Volcano erupted in January, sending ash fall as far as Central Luzon. However, supplies dwindled further when the latest coronavirus strain entered the country.
As of Tuesday morning, the total number of 2019-nCoV cases have risen to 20,438, with 425 already dead — drawing comparisons to the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS.
DOH recently confirmed that the first confirmed 2019-nCoV death outside China was a Chinese national confined at the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila. Health officials said that they are monitoring 80 patients under investigation, after exhibiting symptoms brought by the 2019-nCoV.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.