Massive lineup for face masks at Richmond pharmacy

Panic buying of face masks

With news spreading fast of a coronavirus case being confirmed in B.C, a massive lineup formed this afternoon for face masks outside a Richmond pharmacy.

The lineup outside the ChemMart Pharmacy was almost 100 deep and stretched about 80 yards.

One woman, who was already wearing a mask, said she was there to stock up for future use. Another said she had been lining up for more than half an hour, after being told at PriceSmart across the road that they had no masks left.

Health experts in B.C. have generally dismissed the effectiveness of such masks, saying that the ones most people are wearing will only stop sick people spreading infection, not the other way around.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, made the announcement of B.C.'s first presumptive coronavirus case Tuesday morning at a press conference, but refused to divulge what city the man lives in.

Henry would only confirm he lives in the Vancouver Coastal Health region – which includes Richmond, Vancouver, North Shore and the Sea to Sky area up to Bella Coola. – and he had visited Wuhan, China, where the potentially deadly virus originated a couple of weeks ago.

Health officials said the man, a Canadian resident, arrived via Vancouver Airport last week, but did not show any symptoms until at least 24 hours after his arrival.

Henry said the man does not require hospitalization and is being monitored, in isolation, at his home.

“He went home and took all the necessary precautions, put himself in isolation and called it in,” said Henry.

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