Apparent fears brought by the novel coronavirus (nCoV) outbreak have led to the scarcity of face mask supply in drug stores and similar distributors in this city.
An official of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-Negros Occidental said supply started to deplete Thursday afternoon based on their monitoring.
By Saturday afternoon, pharmacies were still posting notices that they have ran out of face mask stocks.
Consumer Protection Unit head Romel Amihan said they are monitoring pharmacies and even hardware stores that sell masks, along with stores that also sell alcohol and alcogel being used as sanitizers.
Amihan said their teams have monitored that supply of face masks have been running low even before the nCoV scare, and there are currently no stocks of N95 masks in the province.
We actually started monitoring since the eruption of Taal Volcano in Luzon. Since then, most pharmacies in the city and other localities in the province were not able to replenish their supply of face mask from their respective suppliers in Manila, he added.
But Amihan said there has been no panic buying of masks, only that the supply is limited after the demand started to increase following the Taal Volcano eruption.
He added the DTI has issued warning to retailers of face mask and alcohol to refrain from overpricing these products, or they may be charged of profiteering.
There is profiteering if the products are sold at least 10 percent higher than the suggested retail price.
However, Amihan said they have not monitored profiteering so far, on the prices of face mask in Negros Occidental.
An ordinary and disposable face mask can be sold at PHP3 to PHP5 only, he said.
A pharmacist at local drug store, Farmacia de Caro, said a significant number of buyers purchased face masks on Thursday afternoon, which left them with an inventory of only three packs.
While waiting for new stocks to arrive from their suppliers in Manila, the pharmacy posted an out of stock notice outside their store.
Source: Philippines News Agency