Pharmacies around the country are reporting an increase in sales of surgical masks, as locals take measures to safeguard against the coronavirus.
Since the world began taking a closer look at the development of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in China, Trinbagonians some 15,390 km away from the virus’ epicentre have begun to purchase surgical masks in anticipation of it reaching our shores.
Only on Wednesday during a Public Administration and Appropriation Committee at Cabildo Chambers, Port-of-Spain the Ministry of Health’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Roshan Parasram indicated that there was no need for citizens to purchase these masks.
“We don’t recommend to the population at this time to be wearing any masks because we have no suspected or confirmed cases,” Dr Parasram indicated.
However, Guardian Media contacted several pharmacies across the country. They all indicated they have experienced an increase in surgical mask sales since the virus garnered global discourse.
One Chagaunas pharmacy also indicated that it was out of the surgical masks and has resorted to selling dust masks.
Another pharmacy in South Trinidad indicated it needed to increase its stock quantities for the mask due to recent demand.
“There is an increase. Definitely, an increase in the purchasing of those items,” President of the Pharmacy Board Andrew Rahaman told Guardian Media in a brief telephone interview yesterday.
He also noted the absence of citizens wearing the masks in public, which he believes indicates that “people (are) buying it as a precaution.”
In his statement before the Public Administration and Appropriation Committee, Dr Parasram indicated that while the surgical masks would help in lessening the chances of contracting the virus, it’s not the best.
“What is recommended is the N95 because it filters out 95 per cent of the particulate matter that’s why they call it N95”
“That’s recommended but it’s recommended for frontline workers- for someone that would expect to be in contact with an exposed individual,” he continued.
Local health officials have previously said the chance of the virus reach T&T’s shores are very low, with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) iterating in their most recent situation report on the virus (February 6) that “the risk of importation of 2019-novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) to the Region continues to be deemed low.”