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Amid coronavirus scare, face masks fly off the shelves of Cebu drugstores

John Sitchon

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Amid coronavirus scare, face masks fly off the shelves of Cebu drugstores
The Department of Trade and Industry, however, guarantees there is no shortage of face masks in Cebu City


CEBU CITY, Philippines – As fear of being infected with the coronavirus grips Metro Cebu, drugstores here are forced to ration surgical face masks to meet the high demand.

Pharmacies are implementing a “one box per person” policy in the purchase of face masks to prevent hoarding.

During a meeting on Friday, January 31, Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella requested the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to monitor prices of face masks and to also sanction those who are hoarding these. 

David Tumulak, chairperson of the City Council Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management,  said that pharmacies caught selling overpriced masks will be charged with violating the Consumer’s Act and the Disaster Risk Reduction Law for hoarding. 

He said 7 pharmacies here are now being investigated for allegedly overpricing the masks.

An official statement by DTI representative Dinah Gladys Oro said there should not be a shortage of face masks in Cebu City as supplies for the Central Visayas region directly arrive here from the National Capital Region (NCR).

The DOH-Central Visayas Center for Health Development said face masks were not the only means to prevent respiratory tract infections. DOH said individuals can have good health through proper rest, diet, proper handwashing and cough etiquette. (READ: Novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV: What we know so far)

Department of Health Central Visayas Director Jaime Bernadas said that the 38-year-old Chinese national from Wuhan, who was the first confirmed patient of the coronavirus in the Philippines, had been in Cebu for only 3 hours as a transit passenger. 

“What we need to do is to be vigilant and to be healthy so we are not susceptible to the virus,” said Bernadas.

The World Health Organization declared the outbreak an international emergency. The death toll is currently at 212 as of Friday, January 31. 

The DOH recommended the use of face masks for those who are sick to help contain spreading the virus. For those going to crowded places and have pre-existing conditions, face masks may help prevent infections. –

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