VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — N95 and surgical masks are flying off the shelves in Metro Vancouver as fears over the novel coronavirus grow.
Many pharmacies have sold out of face masks, some for days at a time awaiting shipments, after a recent spike in demand.
Victor Wee is the manager at Wellness Pharmacy in Richmond where he sold out of 25 boxes of face masks in a day.
“We’ve run out of course. We don’t have any more to sell. But we are seeing a spike in calls this week, not so much last week,” he tells NEWS 1130. “We’re really starting to ramp up. I think I’m seeing more calls from people who travel to parts of Asia, China, that sort of thing.”
It’s a similar situation for Ina Yu, the manager CRC Pharmacy in Richmond, who says people have a lot of questions about the virus.
“I think it’s because of the recent breaking news that the coronavirus has travelled overseas to North America,” she says. “We’re trying to keep some aside to make sure our own staff has enough supplied first. But the rest of the supply, as far as we can supply to the general public, we are trying to do that.”
“All our stores are sold out, even our warehouse doesn’t have any”: Mask sales have spiked this week in #MetroVancouver as fears of the #Coronavirus grow. Most pharmacies are sold out. More on @NEWS1130 with @martinmacmahon. pic.twitter.com/B29r6UneGL
— Taya Fast (@taya_fast) January 23, 2020
There is at least one confirmed case of the virus in Washington state.
Meanwhile, in Vancouver around the area of Ash Street and Broadway, London Drugs, Shopper’s Drug Mart, SRx Pharmacy, and Save-On-Foods are all sold out of face masks.
London Drugs even says it has a rush shipment of masks on the way, while an employee at Save-On tells NEWS 1130 people are asking about the masks and are “afraid of the virus.”
At the Cross Roads Clinic, they’ve been sold out and trying to refer people to other pharmacies and clinics.
“We need to get into the plans,” an employee says. “We need to keep on checking to see if we have masks. None of our staff have masks either.”
Someone on Craiglist is even capitalizing on the high demand, selling masks for a premium.
It’s the hottest must have accessory. N95 and surgical masks are flying off the shelves in Metro Vancouver, as fears over the Wuhan coronavirus grow. Many pharmacies tell me they’ve sold out. People are even trying to cash in through Craigslist. Listen for more @NEWS1130 pic.twitter.com/HDnVlN2Djw
— Martin MacMahon (@martinmacmahon) January 23, 2020
With files from Taya Fast
Editor’s note: We have changed the headline and updated this article to correctly refer to the new virus.