Still many stores out of stock of masks; long queues persist

Still many stores out of stock of masks; long queues persist

Facebook user Goh Rayson shared this morning (29 Jan) that several stores were out of stock of masks, despite the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) earlier reassurances that the country has enough stock for six months.

With the total number of cases in Singapore now up to seven, the public are ramping up their purchase of masks to use as a precaution against the Wuhan coronavirus. Unfortunately, it appears that the country is quickly running out of stock of not only masks but hand sanitizers as well.

Mr Goh Rayson shared on his Facebook page that there was a very long line at Unity, though the store did not have stock or hand sanitizers. Upon visiting other stores such as Watson’s, Guardian and BHG Pharmacies, he discovered that none of those outlets had stock of masks either.

Image from Goh Rayson / Facebook

He even tried nearly hospital pharmacies at Khoo Tech Phuat Hospital and Yishun Community hospital, but to no success.

Mr Goh added that the worrying thing is that the staff said they had no idea when stocks will arrive and that the store clerks are running out of supplies for themselves as well.

An update on his post indicated that a visit to yet another store, Nippon Home, revealed that they still had surgical masks, though no N95 masks. Mr Goh said that when he visited, the queue had about 80 to 100 people.

TOC sent a volunteer reporter to check the situation on the ground around 12.30 pm and we found that the Watson and Guardian at Tiong Bahru Plaza were also out of stock. The pharmacist at Watson said they didn’t know when new stock would arrive.

The same was said by the counter staff at Guardian. There was even a sign posted at the counter at Guardian telling customers they were out of stock, with no indication of when the stock would be replenished.

When our volunteer tried NTUC at the plaza, the man at the counter said that NTUC doesn’t sell masks. However, he also indicated that masks were out of stock everywhere else. Hand sanitizers are running out as well.

The government continues to reassure public that there are enough masks

On 24 January, MOH has reassured the public that there are enough N95 masks in Singapore for the public.

Channel NewsAsia had reported that a check showed that Guardian and Watsons stores in Paya Lebar Quarter, Clementi Mall, and Tiong Bahru Plaza are out of the masks. In other places where the masks were still available, long queues were forming and the public anxiously snapped them up along with hand sanitizers and thermometers as precautions against the virus.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday (28 January), Senior Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min reassured the public that the supply of masks in the country is sufficient if they are used “sensibly and responsibly”.

“We would like to reassure Singaporeans that there is sufficient supply of masks in Singapore, if we use them sensibly and responsibly. There is no need to rush to buy masks,” Dr Lam wrote.

He added that that the Government is working closely with retailers like NTUC FairPrice and Unity Pharmacy to push out the stocks.

In the post, Dr Lam noted that he along with NTUC Fairprice’s CEO Seah Kian Peng were earlier at a warehouse to check on masks stockpile.

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