Surgical face masks and n95 masks which have become highly in demand amid the nationwide alarm over the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak in China have run out in drug stores across Tagbilaran City.
The Chronicle made rounds on Friday to check the availability of face masks and found out that all major drug stores in the city including Rose Pharmacy, Mercury Drug Store and The Generics Pharmacy ran out of supplies.
Some small pharmacies were also all out of stocks.
An attendant at Rose Pharmacy said that they ran out of supply even before the nCoV scare as these already became highly in demand since the Taal Volcano in Batangas erupted. Their supplies were purchased in bulk and were shipped to affected areas.
Mercury Drug Store sold its last supplies on Wednesday. They have yet to determine when new stocks will arrive.
Meanwhile, face masks made of cloth are being sold at P40 to P50 each by sidewalk vendors along the city’s main thoroughfares.
Doctor Cesar Tomas Lopez of the Provincial Health Office has suggested for the public to wear face masks particularly in crowded areas as precautionary measure.
This, coupled with maintenance of good personal hygiene through frequent and thorough washing of hands can help keep the virus at bay.
“Ang pamaagi sa pagtakod aning nCoV pinaagi sa droplet, inig ubo sa taw na naay virus mo lutang ning virus sa hangin pipila ka segundo, so mao na atong bantayan na dili ta makaduol sa mga taw na gi-ubo unya makahanggap ta sa kagaw,” he said.
According to Joe Hibaya, chief of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Bohol’s consumer protection group, face mask supplies are also running low in neighboring provinces including Cebu.
He said that the Department of Health (DOH) has intervened and has requested for stocks to be delivered to the region.
“Pero naay giingon didto na ang for Central Visayas supply gi-request na sa DOH aron intawn naa nay mo abot na supply diri sa atong mga kaprobinsyahan kay daghan jud og nangita og face mask,” he said.
He also gathered information indicating that the Alturas Group which has six retail establishments across the province received minimal stocks on Friday, but this was still to be verified.
Other than face masks, supply of alcohol, hand sanitizers and other disinfectants in the city have also dwindled.
According to Hibaya, there have been no stores which were caught jacking up prices of the said products to take advantage of the surging demand for these.
He assured that they are conducting regular monitoring of prices in the face of the 2019-nCoV scare.
On Thursday afternoon, Health Sec. Francisco Duque III announced that a 38-year-old woman from Wuhan, China who traveled to the Philippines via Hong Kong was confirmed to have been infected with the disease.
She is reportedly isolated at San Lazaro Hospital in Sta. Cruz, Manila. (AD)