Viral anxiety: Singapore stores sell out of masks islandwide

Photo Illustration via Joy Larsen/Facebook.
Photo Illustration via Joy Larsen/Facebook.

Singaporeans gripped with the Wuhan virus scare are buying face masks in bulk and depleting supplies islandwide.

Retailers said they’ve been forced to impose limits on sales today as many consumers took to social media to complain they were unable to find any in stock. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the city-state rose to seven today.

Chain outlets running out of face masks included Guardian, Unity Pharmacy, Watsons and NTUC FairPrice supermarkets. 

While we continue to work with suppliers to bring in more stock for these items, we urge customers not to hoard these items as doing so will deprive others who need them as well,” the supermarket chain wrote online. 

NTUC Fairprice is limiting customers to only 10 surgical or N95 face masks, two bottles of hand sanitizers and two thermometers.

Watsons, which sells an assortment of face masks, is restricting each customer to either a single box of 50 face masks, a box of 20 N95 “particulate respirator” masks, and two packs of five carbon face masks, among others. 

Most of those masks are unlikely to stop transmission. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says fit-tested masks meeting N95 standards can help, but most disposable surgical maps are unlikely to help.

Guardian is limiting each customer to just 10 masks or one box, according to a Sunday announcement.

People queue for masks outside a NTUC Fairprice in Simei. Photo: Cindy Wong/Facebook
People queue for masks outside a NTUC Fairprice in Simei. Photo: Cindy Wong/Facebook

Many who failed to get their hands on masks or sanitizers have taken their grievances online. 

“Unity at Hillion Mall ‘Out Stock’ not even a piece of mask didn’t got a chance to buy,” a Joy Larsen wrote.

“Yesterday I went to NTUC Finest at Wisteria mall Yishun. Nothing on shelves,” a Rosnah Abdul Karim wrote.


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