Surgical masks have almost sold out across the United Kingdom over fears of coronavirus despite the fact that there hasn’t been a single confirmed case of it in the country.
Pharmacy retailer Boots says that its six-pack of “safe & sound” surgical face masks is sold out, as is another box of 50 masks.
The company said it was “working to make additional stock available for customers to purchase in store and on boots.com which we hope will land over the next week.”
One mask still available for sale on Amazon.co.uk is retailing for a whopping £99.99, though most others on the website are completely out of stock.
Branches of B&Q, a hardware chain, are also reporting that they are selling out of dust masks, with shelves in one London store being empty.
Wynne Lloyd-Williams of Cymru Healthcare, a medical supply firm told the BBC, “We’ve seen a dramatic increase in demand.”
“This is unusual. They are not a significant product, but people now are thinking ‘should we purchase them?'” he added.
Virologists say the masks do not offer complete protection against airborne viruses although they do help with preventing hand to mouth infections.
N95 respirators, a stronger type of mask designed to filter out pollutants, offer more protection than ordinary surgical masks but also make breathing more difficult.
As we reported earlier, a model that predicts the number of coronavirus infections that will occur if the outbreak isn’t contained shows that based on current projections, there will be over 183 million infections before the end of February.
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