Facemasks run out of stocks despite soaring prices in Region 12

Face masks. MindaNews photo by BOBBY TIMONERA

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 31 January) – Facemasks have run out of stocks in some parts of Region 12 Friday as the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) scare also took its toll on the prices of the item to skyrocket tenfold.

A MindaNews monitoring showed that some major pharmacies in this city and nearby General Santos City no longer have available facemasks as people rushed to buy them amid the health crisis now considered by the World Health Organization as a global emergency.

On Thursday, the Philippines recorded its first confirmed case of the new virus, a 38-year-old Chinese woman, who arrived in the country from Wuhan, China, on January 21.

To avoid repeated questions from customers, some pharmacies in Koronadal and General Santos, the major gateway to the region with its sea and air ports, even wrote on cardboards that they no longer have supplies of facemasks.

From just two to three pesos before the nCoV outbreak that originated in Wuhan in the central Chinese province of Hubei, the three-ply disposable ear-loop type mask has been selling from P15 to P20 apiece in the cities of Koronadal and General Santos, MindaNews learned.

Region 12 straddles the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong and Kidapawan.

Koronadal is the seat of government of the region.

Dr. Rogelio Aturdido, South Cotabato health officer, urged the public to avoid shaking hands or “beso-beso” (social kissing) for the meantime in the wake of the coronavirus scare.

He said that coronavirus symptoms are similar to flu, colds, cough or fever.

Aturdido urged those with symptoms of cough and colds to wear surgical masks to prevent spreading the illness.

To avoid contracting coronavirus, Aturdido said it is important to practice good hygiene, such as proper washing of hands, eating Vitamin C-rich foods, drinking plenty of water and getting daily adequate sleep.

In General Santos, Dr. Rochelle Oco, acting city health officer, urged residents not to panic or be afraid since the city remains free from coronavirus.

According to her, airport and quarantine workers are strictly monitoring the passengers arriving in the city for possible symptoms of coronavirus.

She belied reports that a patient in one of the private hospitals in the city was diagnosed with coronavirus, as she requested the public to refrain from spreading unverified information on social media.

Oco said the city formed a task force against coronavirus with Thursday’s confirmed presence of the virus in the country. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)