Face masks being sold by the roadside in Tacloban City (PNA photo)

Face masks being sold by street vendors on roadsides might be unsafe to use according to an official of the Department of Health (DOH) in Leyte.

DOH Eastern Visayas regional director Minerva Molon discouraged the public from purchasing the face masks sold on roadsides. She said these masks might be contaminated since they have no proper packaging.

“[A] face mask that is sold on streets may be prone to contaminant making them unsafe for use,” Molon said.

After the DOH announced the first 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) case in the country, pharmacies nationwide immediately ran out of stocks face masks while vendors started selling them in the streets.

Vendors sell the surgical face mask from PHP10 to PHP15 per piece, almost twice the PHP8 suggested retail price. The N95 face mask, on the other hand, is being sold at PHP130 per piece 

Molon emphasized that a healthy person doesn’t need to wear a face mask. Only pregnant women, senior citizens, those with colds, cough, and chronic disease are encouraged to wear them.

She added that proper hygiene is of utmost importance, maintaining a safe distance from those with cough and colds, and taking vitamins to boost the immune system.

Meanwhile, Philippine National Police chief Gen. Archie Gamboa said policemen are prepared to help the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in the price monitoring, hoarding, and profiteering of medical supplies.

“On the part of the PNP, we will assist the DTI on price monitoring and maintaining peace in cases of panic buying. But basically, it is the work of DTI,” Gamboa stated. “It is very important in a situation like this (that) we define the roles of every agency.” (RJ Espartinez)