By Cristina Hodgson • 28 January 2020 • 18:34
THE pharmacies in Spain are running out of face masks due to the massive influx of the Chinese community who reside in Spain and are buying them in boxes to send to their relatives.
Sales shot up more than 330% between January 22 and 24, compared to last year.
Spanish pharmacists are having a field day in January with the sale of medical masks to prevent the coronavirus. So much so that from January 1 to 26, sales increased by 77% compared to last year, and by 330% between January 22 and 24, the days of greatest demand in the month, according to data provided by Cofares (leader in medical distribution in Spain).
José Merodio, owner of a pharmacy in Usera, Madrid’s Chinatown, told El Mundo that last week was “crazy” with sales multiplied by 20. Adding that the three distributors he works with have run out of stock.
Antonio Mingorance, president of the Andalusian Council of Pharmaceutical Colleges, and vice-president of Bidafarma (A pharmaceutical cooperative created for the distribution and dispensing of pharmaceutical products), confirms this increase in demand: “We had the normal stock of masks, but whenever an event of this type occurs, sales soar. We have a large Chinese population in Spain”.
In fact, according to the National Statistics Institute (INE), there are more than 224,559 Chinese people living in Spain.
Pharmacists in Catalonia mirror the same situation with many pharmacies in the centre of Barcelona and neighbouring areas without stock since the weekend and distributors informing that there are no current shipping plans to replenish stock.
According to the Federation of Pharmaceutical Distributors (Fedifar), the number of requests for face masks by pharmacies has increased significantly in recent days, but Fedifar stress that it’s important that citizens are aware that the mask is only preventive, not a medicine.
Fedifar hopes that the supply will soon be restored, stating however that it depends on the “laboratories”.
According to Luz Lewin, pharmacist and technical and quality director of Grupo Cofares, one of the safest mechanisms to avoid contagion is to stay one metre away from infected people and the use of masks, pointing out that the advantage of wearing a mask not only protects from the spread of the coronavirus, but is also a barrier for other virus like flu.
Another important factor is that not all masks protect equally, so the product the Chinese have been asking for is one in particular: mask with FFP2 filter, with special protection for respiratory diseases. As well as the model N95, however, as Euro Weekly News understands, that mask has been sold out worldwide. Failing that, any mask that remains will be bought.
The latest reports indicate that the Wuhan coronavirus death toll has risen to 106 in China.
Today, Tuesday, Chinese officials announced 25 additional deaths from the infection, raising the death toll to 106. The disease, which is believed to have originated in a seafood market in the Chinese central city of Wuhan, has infected a few thousand people across China and has also spread to other countries.
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