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Pharmacies sell out of surgical face masks around Metro Vancouver as fear of new coronavirus grows

Last Updated Feb 10, 2020 at 5:31 pm PDT

Taya Fast, NEWS 1130 photo
Summary

Many pharmacies have sold out of face masks, some for days at a time awaiting shipments, after a recent spike in demand

Near Ash Street, London Drugs, Shopper's Drug Mart, SRx Pharmacy, and Save-On-Foods are all sold out of face masks

Someone on Craiglist is even capitalizing on the high demand, selling masks for a premium

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.”


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.


Meantime, the World Health Organization has chosen not to declare a global health emergency for the new coronavirus. The death toll for the virus is at 17, while hundreds of others are infected.

With files from Taya Fast

Editor’s note: We have changed the headline and updated this article to correctly refer to the new virus.