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Coronavirus: CF Man Fears Mask Shortage

January 30, 2020

A man with cystic fibrosis is concerned about the availability of respirator masks due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Byron Wright, 37, who has had a lung transplant and has a suppressed immune system, uses the masks to try to protect against viruses in public.

His wife, Glesni, from Gwynedd, said a virus increases the risk of his body rejecting the new organ.

She said it was harder and more expensive to buy the masks online since the outbreak in China.

Public Health Wales said there was “insufficient evidence” to suggest there was any benefit to people from wearing a face mask, unless they had been directed to do so by a doctor.

On Sunday, Mrs Wright, 36, who is her husband’s full time carer, went online to order respirator masks, but she was refunded her money as the company could not fulfil the order.

Following more searching online, she was able to buy some masks, but she said prices had increased due to demand.

Surgical masks were first introduced into hospitals in the late 18th Century but they did not make the transition into public use until the Spanish flu outbreak in 1919.

Using them to prevent infection is popular in many countries around the world but virologists are sceptical about their effectiveness against airborne viruses, although there is some evidence to suggest they can help prevent hand-to-mouth transmissions.

A pharmacy in Cardiff told BBC Wales that, while it does not stock face masks, it had received up to 30 queries in recent days.

Coronavirus has caused more than 130 deaths, spreading across China and to at least 16 other countries.

It has prompted people in the affected areas to wear the masks when in public in the hope it helps stop the spread of the virus.

But the increase in demand has caused problems for the Wrights, who live in Manod, Blaenau Ffestiniog.

“Since the coronavirus started we are taking more precautions and wanted to make sure we had enough masks,” said Mrs Wright.

“I started to look on other websites and saw that many are out of stock and the ones available had significantly increased in price.

“You could get 10 masks for £10 but now they are around £6 to £10 each. This is a worrying time for people like us who depend on these types of masks.

“Some people don’t care if they get a cold or a virus, they go to work as usual, but it can change our lives forever.”

But a Public Health Wales (PHW) spokesman said: “There is insufficient evidence to suggest that there is any benefit to members of the general public from wearing a face mask.

“The risk to the general public from the N-CoV infection remains low.

“Public Health Wales would not encourage people to buy or start wearing face masks unless they have been directed to do so by a clinician.”

A Boots spokesman added: “The best way to help prevent catching a virus is by making sure you regularly wash your hands with soap, and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth to prevent transmission from surfaces, especially after blowing your nose, sneezing and coughing.

“Antiviral hand foams and gel can also be useful when you are out and about.”

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 31, 2020 2:54 am

    Hello, we still have some masks available.

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