Even if the Department of Health announced that there is no need to scramble for N95 face masks in Metro Manila and other provinces except for those close to Taal Volcano, the demand continues to soar even here in Mindanao.
In an interview in Malacanang Tuesday, Health Asst. Secretary Maria Laxamana told reporters that residents near the volcano are the ones who should wear N95 respirators as ashfall in these places are dangerous. She added that a regular mask would suffice as the ashfall in Metro Manila and Region 3 is not as bad.
The N95 respirators are said to be sorely lacking in medical supply stores in Metro Manila, driving the prices of the masks astronomically high. It would seem that even in the midst of life threatening calamities, there are still people who see these situations as opportunities to gain more profit. Indeed, greed knows no bounds.
The frenzy of buying face masks has reached Mindanao as Mindanews reported. Many of those who have relatives in Batangas and Metro Manila are desperately looking for N95 respirators to send to their love ones especially as there are schools that require their students to use one.
This problem is not confined to the Philippines. In Hong Kong, N95 respirators are also on high demand due to fears over the Wuhan virus, or what is said to be a mysterious pneumonia strain originating from China. From HK$50 per box, it is now said to cost HK$80 per box.
Health is always an important factor that should be considered during disasters. Knowing that the volcano is still spewing ash and the alert level has remained the same, we expect more health risks arising from people’s continued exposure to ashfall and the people’e prolonged stay at the evacuation centers.
Meanwhile, the search for N95 respirators continues.
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