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Greeks in coronavirus panic trigger shortages in face masks

With coronavirus infections rising in neighboring Italy, Greeks “raided” pharmacies on Monday morning and bought bulks of surgical face masks.

“I’ve never seen something like that,” a pharmacists in our neighborhood in an Athens suburb told me.

Customers do not buy just a couple but in bulk, ignoring the needs of other people, like of those belonging to the “vulnerable groups” of the society, those already suffering form other health issues.

“People were buying masks for themselves, their children, their parents, their parents-in-law… and I don’t know for whom else,” she added.

The pharmacist stressed “I don’t have one left even as a sample.”

New supplies? Apparently even suppliers have run out of supplies.

“My suppliers say, they do not have any. How could we all know that panic would spread so quickly?” she said.

The same reports I received from two other pharmacies. No face masks! Out! Oye gia deigma as we say in Greece.

Media started to report about the disappearance of face mask already before Monday noon. The first region where they reportedly run out of masks was in Patras, the port city in North Peloponnese, where the big ferries arrive from Italy.

According to some media, the face masks shortage is due to the fact that they are produced in China that has halted exports because of its own needs.

On a package of face masks we have at home the country of production is not listed, though.

Anyway, I do really want to believe that people are buying face masks like crazy and not that the industry keeps them in stock waiting for the prices to rise.

At prime time news, pharmacists and consumers told media that the prices have skyrocketed. A simple mask sold for 0.30 cents before the panic is now to have for one euro.

At the same time, there is a lot of talk on whether the face masks provide sufficient protection from the coronavirus.

While authorities in virus-hit countries advise citizens to wear them, posts on social media claim that they do not protect. Not to mention the fact that most people wear them wrong and make multiple use of them.

Following a meeting with the Prime Minister, the Health Minister said on Monday morning:

PS Maybe Portokalos’ advice would work and a simple “Windex” would to the job, too.

Just kidding….

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One comment

  1. More fool the pharmacies,why dont they only allow two per person,they dont care about others either,they just want the money,they have to be rationed,thats obvious.