COVID19: Cyprus shortage of face masks

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Cyprus pharmacies have little to no supply of surgical masks amid calls by health experts for the public to wear them as a COVID-19 self-protection measure post-lockdown.

President of the Pharmacists Association Eleni Piera told the Cyprus News Agency on Wednesday said that a shortage of face masks was recorded during the first stage of the lockdown exit.

“There is a lot of demand. There are few if any quantities at pharmacies and certainly not enough to satisfy demand,” Piera said.

She said it was essential that masks be brought to Cyprus and made available on the open market.

During the first stage of relaxing restrictive measures, civil servants serving the public and employees in shops are required by decree to wear a protective face mask.

Their use is not mandatory for the general public, but they are recommended by health authorities when entering crowded places such as supermarkets and bakeries.

“There are some indications from importers that they may be bringing some quantities towards the end of this week or beginning of next week. But, even so, quantities will not be sufficient and will not cover the increased demand in the market,” Piera said.

She added that masks are the first thing people ask for when going to a pharmacy.

There is currently a price ceiling for simple surgical masks of 70 cents each. Masks with a filter are priced between  €5.75 and €7.30 by decree.

Piera said pharmacists are not the ones who decide on the price of masks and urged authorities to review the matter and, if necessary, raise the ceiling so that more imports are encouraged as there is no profit in importing them for retail sale.

In comments to the Financial Mirror, Lena Panayiotou head of OEB’s Industrial Relations & Social Policy Department said that authorities should lift the price ceiling on masks by another 20-euro cents or so, as the current price leaves no room for profit.