Two people have tested positive for coronavirus so far in Ireland
Hand sanitiser and face masks are in high demand this week following reports of the first case of coronavirus (Covid-19) in the country.
“People are panicking looking for them but face masks aren’t much good unless they’re industrial. They actually trap moisture from your breath and if they’re moist they do the opposite of what they should,” said pharmacist, Gareth Johnston. Such is the demand that even pharmacies are struggling to get orders in.
“People are going mad trying to buy hand sanitiser and wipes. We tried to order a thousand packs the other day and they were all gone,” said Mr Johnston.
“They were being shipped out of the country. In the beginning, China was buying them all up.
“My advice is to just follow the HSE guidelines. Wash your hands, most importantly. And don’t panic.”
Michelle Dowd, Manager at Ward’s Pharmacy in Longford town had similar advice.
“The most important thing is not to panic. Our advice to customers is good handwashing, sneeze into your elbow and not your hand - and teach children the same. And use disposable tissues,” she said.
The pharmacy is experiencing a similar shortage in face masks but still has hand sanitiser, as well as sanitising wipes and surgical scrub.
“Every person that comes in is looking for hand sanitiser. Masks are out of stock and people have stopped asking for them. But the schools have sent out letters to parents asking them to make sure their children have hand sanitiser,” said Ms Dowd.
While the general consensus among health professionals is that the majority of the population is not at risk of serious infection, it’s important to be mindful of the more vulnerable members of society, such as the elderly or those who have underlying conditions.
“This is such a frightening time for myself and others,” said Jillian McNulty who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis and spent a number of weeks in hospital over the Christmas period.
“Given I’ve been so ill I’m petrified. It’s sad that it takes something like this to make people conscious of hand hygiene and use of hand sanitisers. People should be practising hand hygiene regardless.
“It’s extremely important that everyone, especially healthy people do listen and pay heed as, if they aren’t aware of cross infection, it’s people like me that will suffer.“It might be just a virus to a healthy immune system but to someone with CF or someone that’s had a transplant, it could prove fatal. The WHO have said that those living with respiratory illnesses will be most affected.”
Anyone who is concerned about coronavirus can find more information via the HSE website at www.hse.ie.