Cyprus Mail

Surgical masks almost out of stock, importers warn

Surgical masks are almost out of stock in the wake of high public demand to stock up against the coronavirus (Covid-19), a medical equipment importer told the Cyprus Mail on Wednesday.

Pharmacists are unable to cope with the demand from those seeking to protect themselves against the spread of the virus.

“We have ran out of stock already three times this month, and we found different suppliers” a pharmacist in Strovolos told the newspaper, saying she believes the higher demand started after the announcement of the first case of the new virus in Italy on January 31.

Other pharmacists told Cyprus Mail they are unable to order masks over the next few days and are completely out of stock.

“The shortage occurred two or three weeks ago,” a representative from the association of importers of medical and scientific equipment told Cyprus Mail.

“Our stock is currently minimum to nothing.”

There are several reasons for the shortages.

“The island has no local production, so we depend on other European factories.”

According to the representative, many of these factories are unable to produce masks after the closure of Chinese factories that were providing them with components for a range of medical equipment.

“It is a practical issue,” the source said. Factories that can produce masks are struggling to satisfy the demand worldwide.

Recently, a Cypriot importer ordered 80,000 masks but the factory told them they will send only 4,000, said the representative.

“Factories are asking us to ‘be patient’ and that it will take time to receive our orders.”

Mask can be delivered much faster by airplane, but the freight rate would be much higher. As a result, importers and pharmacists would be forced to charge more as well, said the source.

The source also said wearing respirators rather than surgical masks was more effective though masks can help prevent the spread of the virus if a contagious person wears them.

“The message is that life goes on,” said the source explaining how panicking is pointless in Cyprus since no cases have been reported yet.

COVID-19 originated from a seafood market in Wuhan, China. The coronavirus has spread to 42 countries and has a total death toll of 2,769 people while 81,242 were infected.

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