By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT
WHILE health officials have changed their stance on people wearing masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19, some local pharmacies say they don’t have any available for sale.
“We don’t have any masks,” said a supervisor at Lowe’s Pharmacy on Soldier Road, who did not give her name. “I am not sure when we are going to get any either.”
An employee at The Friendly Pharmacy in Cable Beach, said none were available and she had no idea when they would be in stock.
Another pharmacy said the masks in stock were only for employees.
“Unfortunately we only have sufficient masks for our staff,” said Laura Charlton, proprietor, Prescription Parlour Pharmacy. “At this time we do not intend to sell masks because we had some before and some of the price points are a lot more expensive than what we want to sell them for and we don’t want the unnecessary fall out from persons thinking we were price gorging so we are just referring them to others who we know are selling them.”
On Tuesday, Health Minister Dr Duane Sands said that while medical grade face masks are needed as a priority for healthcare workers and others on the frontline, homemade masks may “provide some protection” to the general public.
“We have moved from some of our strongly held views,” Dr Sands said on 96.9FM show Morning Blend, with host Dwight Strachan.
“For instance, even up to yesterday (Monday), the World Health Organization (WHO) has been saying that face masks are not being recommended. The Bahamas has softened its position a bit and said that look, while we are aware of the evidence, certainly what we have to do first is make sure that face masks are available for front line workers inclusive of healthcare workers, police officers, immigration officers, ambulance drivers, even people that interact with the public.”
He added: “And while homemade face masks do not provide the same level of protection, they probably provide some protection and they reduce the spread of this disease, which except in extenuating circumstances, is spread by droplets.
“So, we’re suggesting that people should consider wearing even a homemade mask, or if they have access to masks, that would be fine.”
Studies suggest the novel coronavirus can survive on surfaces for a few hours to a few days.
The World Health Organisation says COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks.
While some speculate the virus can be airborne, WHO says “the droplets are too heavy to hang in the air. They quickly fall on floors or surfaces.”
WHO advises: “You can be infected by breathing in the virus if you are within one metre of a person who has COVID-19, or by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth before washing your hands.”