If you work in construction, the news of the coronavirus hitting South Africa might cause more of a headache than just being concerned about how it could affect your family. Multiple online retailers, including Builders Warehouse, have sold out of dust masks as people in the country panic over a potential outbreak of the coronavirus.
The World Health Organisation is not encouraging people to use masks, as those who are healthy are still not protected from the virus completely if they wear them without taking other hygiene precautions.
“If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection,” said WHO.
This has not stopped South Africans from emptying shelves of any kind of masks they can find.
Game has sold out online of their 5 pack of dust masks. Builder’s Warehouse also confirmed with Business Insider, that they have seen an increase in demand and a shortage of masks on their shelves.
I’ve been looking for dust mask for my team on site. About 5 builder’s warehouse are sold out 🙆🏿♂️ https://t.co/1m5LEuS7O0
— m x (@Cannope) March 5, 2020
This despite the fact that dust masks are not designed to protect against bacteria or virus transmission.
Dischem online has also sold out of surgical masks, which are more protective but also can only be used once.
The top product searches on Dischem’s website are hand sanitizer, surgical face masks, mask and sanitizer.
A major fallout from panic buying is that when items are not in stock, those who really need them suffer. Medical professionals and people with compromised immune systems who really need these products are already struggling in countries worse hit by the outbreak.
How to protect yourself from the Coronavirus
According to WHO, the best way to protect yourself from infection is not a surgical mask or hand sanitizer, but rather vigilant washing with soap and water.
WHO also recommends avoiding touching your face and eyes, keeping a 1-meter distance when talking to people and avoiding crowded places.
Image: @llc_victoriaomn/ Twitter