Kelowna medical supply shop sells out of surgical masks amid coronavirus panic

Public Health Canada has assessed the public health risk associated with 2019-nCoV as low

There’s a hot new product flying off the shelves in Kelowna.

And it’s being diagnosed by some as a common case of mass hysteria.

“We are all sold out of masks; we’ve been sold out since Friday,” said Laurie Robinson, assistant manager of Kelowna’s Cooper Medical Supplies.

The spike in sales of surgical masks is being attributed to the first confirmed case of coronavirus in B.C. Two other cases have also been confirmed in Toronto.

“People are just overreacting,” said Robinson. “It’s like SARS 2.0.”

While donning a surgical mask may make some people feel more protected from the virus, Robinson said it’s not going to reduce your likelihood of contracting the virus.

“It’s washing your hands; it’s covering your nose and mouth; staying away from people who are sick; you know, normal infection control stuff,” she said. “(Wearing a mask) really doesn’t help anybody who is healthy. They’re for people who are sick.”

Health officials say the world-wide sharing of information and speed of diagnostic tests has improved greatly since the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which killed 775 people worldwide, including 44 people in Canada.

Since the outbreak of the new virus, China has confirmed more than 4,500 cases, with more than 100 deaths. Most of the confirmed cases have been in the city of Wuhan.

Robinson said more masks are on order for Cooper Medical Supplies but they will be headed to the hospital before they hit retail shelves.

As of Jan. 28, the Government of Canada has reported three cases of the Coronavirus. The most recent case was found in a person who had been staying in the city of Wuhan, China, 14 days prior to experiencing symptoms.

“The Public Health Agency of Canada has assessed the public health risk associated with 2019-nCoV in Wuhan, China as low for Canada and for Canadian travelers,” read a report issued by Health Canada.

READ MORE: B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region

READ MORE: Feds look to help 126 Canadians quarantined in China for coronavirus

-With files from Canadian Press


@michaelrdrguez
michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com

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