DTI chief: No need to hoard sanitizers, face masks, food amid COVID-19 spread

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 10 2020 05:53 PM | Updated as of Mar 10 2020 06:48 PM

MANILA - Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez on Tuesday discouraged the public from hoarding alcohol, face masks, canned goods and other consumer goods, saying this was "unnecessary" despite the rise in cases of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the country.

Several shoppers on Monday trooped to groceries to buy in bulk several food and sanitary supplies after reports of a possible Metro Manila lockdown as the number of cases of COVID-19 infections in the country rose to 33. 

"Ang dami pang laman ng mga grocery. Hindi kailangan mag-stockpile," Lopez told reporters on the sidelines of a Senate hearing.

(Groceries have plenty in stock. There's no need to stockpile.)

"Monitored natin ang prices lalo na ang basic necessities... 'Wag magpanic at huwag ubusin 'yung laman ng grocery. Hindi kailangan," he said.

(We monitor prices especially basic necessities. Don't panic, don't clear grocery shelves. It's not necessary.)

Lopez downplayed the possibility of a lockdown anytime soon, but guaranteed the availability of supplies should several areas be placed in isolation.

"'Pag sinabing lockdown, limited man 'yung movement, makakalabas ka pa din kung kinakailangan. Pinapa-limit lang ang movement... Gusto naman ng mga grocery na magbenta pa rin sila," he said.

(When you say lockdown, while movement would be limited, people can still go out if necessary. We are just limiting movement... Groceries would still want to be open for business.)

NO SHORTAGE OF FACE MASKS, ALCOHOL

The Trade chief also belied fears that there would be a shortage of face masks and alcohol as more Filipinos buy sanitary products. 

Health officials earlier advised that frequent hand washing and wearing face masks in crowded places can help ward off the disease, which has killed some 4,000 people worldwide.

He said a local manufacturer has committed to making 1.6 million masks per month. Frontline services in the health sector are given priority in distributing supply, he said. 

He said government has asked the supplier to allocate 2 million pieces to the Philippines over the next 2 months, while the private sector has tapped an India-based supplier for another 2 million face masks.

On Monday, the Philippines declared a state of public health emergency as more individuals contracted COVID-19. As of 3 p.m., Tuesday, some 33 people, mostly in Metro Manila, were confirmed to have contracted the disease.