Gov't working to fill face mask shortage, says trade chief


Posted at Feb 19 2020 10:35 AM | Updated as of Feb 19 2020 10:50 AM

Demand for face masks soared following the Taal Volcano eruption and the DOH's confirmation of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines involving Chinese tourists. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- The government is addressing a shortage in face masks, with fresh supplies coming this week, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said Wednesday.

The Department of Trade and Industry estimated weekly demand at 400,000, with a suggested retail price of P8 to P12 per piece, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

Demand for face masks shot up after the Taal Volcano erupted on Jan. 12, sending ash clouds to Southern Luzon and Metro Manila for several days.

The outbreak of a novel coronavirus or COVID-19 from China followed, wherein 3 cases were reported in the Philippines, all Chinese tourists.

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"Yes, we have a shortage because of the tremendous surge in demand," Lopez told ANC's Early Edition.

The government is looking to source face masks from India and Thailand. A local manufacturer in Bataan can make up to 80,000 face masks per day, he said.

Health authorities here and abroad have advised the public to wear face masks only if they show symptoms of COVID-19.