By Raymund Antonio
Amid the high demand for face masks due to the new coronavirus, the government has secured the commitment of local manufacturers and importers of face masks to increase the supply in the country, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said on Tuesday.
“Si (Trade) Secretary Mon Lopez has already spoken to our Philippine manufacturers of face masks, and there is a commitment for them to increase their supply,” he said in a media forum in Quezon City.
“Secretary Mon also spoke with all of the importers of face masks for them to increase their orders, and for the arrival of additional face masks.”
The Cabinet official was asked twice in Tuesday’s forum whether or not there is a face mask shortage, but he did not give a categorical answer.
Supplies of face masks ran out in many stores in Metro Manila and nearby provinces following the confirmation of Philippines’ first novel coronavirus (nCoV) case.
Last Sunday, the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed that another patient tested positive for the nCoV. He was a 44-year-old Chinese national who died at the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila.
Nograles explained Filipinos were buying more face masks than their families need.
“I think the scarcity comes with the problem of hoarding; it may not be avoided, [and] because it’s creating some sort of panic among our people, there is a tendency for our countrymen when they [are] able to get [a] supply of face masks, they purchase more than what is required,” he said.
Nevertheless, Nograles gave the assurance that the government has stepped up efforts to increase the supply of face masks.
“We have medical suppliers and they source their supplies from abroad. Because the demand is high, we are encouraging them to increase their supply, even the local manufacturers,” he said.