Corona virus- acute shortage of surgical masks and hand sanitizers

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The coronavirus outbreak has affected Thailand and taken a heavy toll especially in its tourism industry. Popular tourist spots like Hua Hin, Phuket and Chinatown are relatively deserted.

Few days ago, we travelled down to Bangkok city to try to purchase surgical masks and hand sanitizers in bulk. However even the biggest suppliers of pharmaceutical products have run out of stock of facial masks and hand sanitizers.

7 Eleven stores and their online store, 7eleven.co.th which previously sold masks have run out of stock. In fact, a local friend of mine have ordered from them about 2 weeks ago and paid for the masks. She received a call from their office that there is no more stock and the money is refunded back to her.

A look around Bangkok- the town is slightly less congested that it used to be. November to February are supposed to be peak travel season to Thailand where you would see many farangs (Westerners) walking around. However going around Bangkok city, we see mostly locals, going about their own routine, for example going to work, lunch break and commuting.

Thailand corona virus outbreak

Above is a well known shopping street that is known amongst locals located near Siriraj hospital in Bangkok. We were not able to find any masks available for sales in bulk in all the shops. The masks are available in single quantities at an inflated price. The most basic white colour ones are sold for about 60 to 100 baht a piece.

Facial mask

Above are some examples of masks that are being sold- the carbon and the surgical masks. There are also shops selling the dust masks- which you need to note that it only protects against dust- such masks are good where there is a haze outbreak but would not protect against the coronavirus.

In shopping complexes in the city, many students and shop assistants are wearing facial masks. However as we move out of the city (non commercialised areas), we do not see many locals wearing masks. In fact, they go about their own business as usual.

The corona virus outbreak would have a chain effect that would affect various industries in Thailand. As more and more awareness spread, shopping complexs and eateries would be more and more deserted. This would affect the livelihood and income of many. In Thailand, many small time business owners and peddlers are trying to survive on day by day- with the impact of income, they would be struggling to even put food on the table, let alone being able to afford the inflated price of these disposable masks.

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