Dis-Chem running out of face masks as South Africans prep for coronavirus

Dis-Chem has told Eyewitness News it’s been experiencing an unusual demand over the past few weeks.

FILE: A Dis-Chem store: Picture: Dis-chem Facebook Page

JOHANNESBURG - With concerns growing over the spread of the deadly coronavirus around the world, surgical face masks are flying off the shelves at some South African stores.

Dis-Chem has told Eyewitness News it’s been experiencing an unusual demand over the past few weeks.

The coronavirus has rapidly spread to various parts of the world after it broke out in the central Chinese city of Wuhan earlier this month.

More than 230 people have been killed, while over 9,000 other cases have been reported.

The dashboard is intended to provide the public with an understanding of the coronavirus outbreak situation as it unfolds, with transparent data sources. Picture: John Hopkins CSSE

While there are still no confirmed cases of coronavirus in South Africa, there appears to be concern among residents.

Eyewitness News visited four Dis-Chem stores in Johannesburg and found that they were all out of surgical masks.

Using masks to prevent infections is popular around the world and people have been using them to avoid transmission of coronavirus.

Brian Epstein is the director of the operational division at Dis-Chem: “There’s been a bit of a panic. So, we’re practically sold out and you can see that we are going to be running short and need to restock.”

The World Health Organisation has now declared the outbreak a health emergency of international concern, but officials in South Africa say there’s no need to panic.