Demand surges as more M’sians opt for extra protection against Covid-19


PETALING JAYA: Malaysians are increasingly getting behind the suggestion to wear two face masks, which has led to a surge in demand.

Big Pharmacy store manager Ryan Tey said this surge came after Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah spoke about double masking recently.

“People always follow what the government recommends.

“Our face mask sales have doubled and fabric masks are currently out of stock, ” he said, though he added that his store had a sufficient supply of disposable masks.

Tey also noted that instead of double masking, some people were opting for face shields as a second layer of protection.

“Some prefer to wear a face mask and pair it with a face shield for better protection, ” he said.

A representative of another pharmacy chain, who requested anonymity, said demand for face masks had gone up over the last few days.

“Sales of fabric masks and N95 and KN95 masks have doubled from the week before.

“There was also an increase in demand for disposable masks, and sales have increased by 20%, ” she said, adding that sales of face shields had also doubled.

The representative said her pharmacy would still be able to meet demand.

“We have enough stock and the public shouldn’t be worried about the supply, ” she added.

Alpro Pharmacy branding, promotion and trade marketing director Lee Yin Chen also observed a surge in demand for face masks.

“We have seen sales increase by three to four times ever since the Health director-general spoke about double masking.

“The demand is especially high for disposable surgical masks and KN95 masks.

“A lot of customers come looking for fabric masks too, ” he added.

Lee, who is also Malaysian Community Pharmacy Guild deputy president, said there was a surge in demand for face masks even before Dr Noor Hisham recommended double masking.

“After Hari Raya Aidilfitri, many visited the pharmacy to look for quality face masks, probably due to the surge in Covid-19 cases.

“Previously, the public tended to get cheaper face masks from unknown sources.

“They are now looking for face masks of good quality that are registered with the Medical Device Authority (MDA) and come with bacterial filtration efficiency and particle filtration efficiency ratings that are higher than 95%, ” he added.

Lee said sales of other Covid-19-related products had also gone up.

“Many people are buying Vitamin C pills to boost their immunity and stock is running out.

“Oximeters are also very popular right now. While they do not provide a conclusive diagnosis for Covid-19, they may help alert a person if their oxygen level is below the accepted level, ” he added.

An oximeter measures the amount of oxygen in the blood in a non-invasive manner.

In Johor Baru, pharmacies are reporting brisk sales of fabric masks following the Health Ministry’s recommendation that two masks be worn due to the continued high number of Covid-19 cases being recorded every day.

Pharmacist Loh Hui Ping, 30, said customers had been visiting her outlet in Taman Sutera Utama here in search of fabric masks since Dr Noor Hisham mentioned the practice last week.

“Sales of fabric masks have gone up by more than 30%. This shows that people follow the input given by health authorities.

“We have three types of fabric masks available. The popular ones are those that come in different sizes as well as those that claim to have quantum-ion functions to kill germs in a short time, ” she added.

Other than fabric masks, she said that four-ply face masks, face shields and Vitamin C pills were quite sought after too.

She also urged the public to get fabric masks and other medical supplies from pharmacies as their products usually have MDA certification.

“Many people like buying fabric masks online as there is a wider variety of fabrics and designs available, but those may not necessarily come with a filter and would end up being just a piece of cloth around your face.

“I would also recommend that people insert a piece of filter into cloth masks as they usually come with a pocket for such a filter, ” she added.

Meanwhile, Sharizan Roslan, an assistant branch manager at a pharmacy in Taman Perling, said sales of fabric masks at her outlet had increased by about 50% over the past week.

“Although we sell fabric masks for both adults and children, customers mostly purchase those for adults as children are not advised to go out during this period.

“After purchasing the masks, customers would also ask us for tips on washing the masks and ways to wear them properly, ” the 36-year-old added.

Art teacher Koh Wei Jing, 37, said she had been wearing fabric masks since the first movement control order last year as an environmentally-friendly move, so she found double-masking quite easy to adapt to.

“I bought a few designs from online shops to support local businesses and I still have some that have not been worn.

“I have been double masking since the Health director-general’s announcement and while I found it slightly harder to breathe in the beginning, I still wear two masks for better protection, ” said the mother of three.

On May 22, Dr Noor Hisham said wearing double face masks in public spaces is encouraged but not mandatory, but also reminded Malaysians that wearing at least one face mask is mandatory.

He said that according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wearing double three-ply masks is 95% effective in keeping out viruses.

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