Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez said there will be 2 million surgical masks available for both health care workers and the public in a month’s time to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the country.

During a Senate hearing on the country’s preparedness on the 2019-nCoV threat, Lopez said the main supplier of the masks in Bataan has committed to produce 400,000 pieces of face masks per week, which would be then added to the existing local supply.

“They committed to supplying first 100,000 (face masks) to be delivered today, which we would prioritize to give to the DOH. Priority yung mga nasa frontline natin, ang health workers (Our priority are those on the frontline, our health workers),” the trade chief said.

“It is important that we have stocks in the Philippines.” 

“Importante (It is important that) we have stocks in the Philippines. We will make it available to the DOH, half to the public. In a month, we can commit about 1 million pieces to the public, and 1 million pieces for the DOH requirement. And that can go on as long as we need the stocks,” the trade head added.

He noted that the current problem is less on the price but on the supply of surgical masks.

Face masks are reportedly selling out amid growing concerns about the public health threat.

“There are really many of those going out of stock simply because of the surge in the demand.“

“Marami po talaga ang nag-out (There are really many of those going out) of stock simply because of the surge in the demand. Some can be considered panic buying the normal inventory of our drugstores are not that high,” Lopez said.

The DOH has so far confirmed three 2019-nCoV infection cases in the Philippines. On Saturday, a 44-year-old Chinese man from Wuhan, China who was the second confirmed case, died at the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the nCoV-infected Chinese man who was admitted to the San Lazaro Hospital on January 25, had pneumonia, fever, cough and a sore throat.

The 2019-nCoV, a new coronavirus strain that originated in Wuhan, China, has so far killed over 300 people and had infected more than 14,000 people in mainland China alone.

The 2019-nCoV has quickly spread to more than a dozen countries, including the Philippines, prompting the World Health Organization to declare the new virus outbreak as a global health emergency.

To curb the spread of 2019-nCoV in the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte has already imposed a temporary ban on travelers coming from mainland China, as well as Hong Kong and Macao. 


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