Sales of face masks on the rise in Ottawa amid coronavirus outbreak
Canadians are bracing for coronavirus as public health officials work to confirm a case in Toronto.
CTV News went to a Home Depot in Gloucestor and found it was sold out of face masks.
Managers tell CTV that customers were buying them in bulk to send to family in China, where there have been reported shortages.
Over at Preston Hardware, owner Johnny Giannetti says as soon as news broke of the virus reaching North America, they saw a surge in mask sales.
“The phone started ringing and asking if we had masks, and what type,” said Giannetti.
“They were saying, ‘put them on hold, we’re coming by’.”
Giannetti says even his suppliers are sending out memos urging their clients to order quickly, and notifying them of possible delays in shipment.
“A couple e-mails were sent to me that if you’re running low, jump in now and order,” said Giannetti.
“The last time we saw this was the SARS incidents, that was hard to get product and an increase in demand for sure.”
Giannetti says he currently still has several types masks in stock with orders for more already in place.
On eBay, some members are selling a “Coronavirus Protection Kit’ that comes complete with a hazmat suit.
Despite the virus reaching North America, Ottawa’s Chief Medical Officer of Health says Canadians do not need to be alarmed.
“We don’t see the severity of illness that was really concerning with SARS,” said Dr. Vera Etches.
“The general population that gets respiratory symptoms doesn’t need to be concerned this could be a new virus right now.”
Dr. Etches says health officials are testing anyone who has been in contact with someone who’s sick in the affected area or in the Wuhan province.
“I know people have questions with Toronto not being far away,” said Dr. Etches.
“They are following up with anyone who’s been in contact with that case so if someone who perhaps was in contact with that case who is in Ottawa or lives in Ottawa then we would be asked to do our part to follow up with that person and we have not been asked to do that.”