Mask provision delayed at some pharmacies

The third phase of the sale of surgical face masks administered by the government was running behind schedule yesterday, reported some pharmacies.
Several pharmacies along and around the Avenida de Horta e Costa have posted notices, asking residents to make their purchases this morning, as opposed to yesterday. The reason given was that they need time to package the masks into packs of 10 each. At least two pharmacies have posted the notice.
A pharmacy near the Red Market had all its prepared face masks sold out within hours. According to a pharmacy worker, there was only a small number of cartons of stock allotted to their shop, which was not sufficient to meet yesterday’s demand.
A long queue was seen at a pharmacy on Rua do Barca. The queue started from inside the small corner shop, up the length of one side of the block.
A woman, surnamed Lam, managed to purchase masks. She said she had queued up for about 45 minutes, but she did not think it was a long wait. She decided to line up because she incidentally needed to buy other items from the pharmacy.
At the start of the fight against the epidemic, the government acted quickly by announcing that it would collaborate with 56 local pharmacies, which was later expanded to 77 pharmacies and offices of local associations, to provide residents with masks at cost price.
The government’s Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center revealed at yesterday’s daily press briefing that, as of 5 p.m. yesterday, a total of 19,000 children’s masks had been sold at the Health Bureau’s health centers.
Children’s masks sold during this phase are suited to children aged between three and eight. The government has pinpointed an age cut-off date. Children born after February 21, 2017 will not be eligible for the purchase of children’s masks.
Residents who are looking to purchase children’s masks are required to present the child’s Macau SAR identification card at their respective health centers, according to the notice posted by several pharmacies.
Separate to the purchase of adult masks, with the presentation of each child’s ID, five children’s masks and five adult masks may be purchased. Each eligible adult, meanwhile, is entitled to purchase a pack of 10 masks every 10 days.
The government explained that the difference in quantity is because without the company of an adult, a child would have to stay home under the legal framework.
Furthermore, adults are advised to keep their children home as part of the effort to counter the epidemic. The Health Bureau also believes that children do not need to go out as often as adults, who may still need to work during this period of outbreak prevention.
The government has urged the public not to rush to buy masks as there is plenty of stock available in the near term and sudden bouts of large demand will cause temporary shortages. AL

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