Coronavirus: New Zealand pharmacy limits numbers of face masks as demand grows

A New Zealand pharmacy is limiting the purchase of face masks following the outbreak of coronavirus in various countries.

Because of the swift spread of the deadly virus, the demand for face masks has grown as Kiwis fear for their safety.

Demand is expected to skyrocket as Chinese tourists flock to New Zealand for the Chinese New Year weekend.

Now, Life Pharmacy in Dunedin is restricting the purchase of N95 particulate respirator masks to five per customer due to the growing demand.

Coronavirus: New Zealand pharmacy limits numbers of face masks as demand grows
Photo credit: Life Pharmacy Dunedin / Facebook

"We moved earth and sky (just about) to get these masks here for the Chinese New Year weekend as supplies are depleted in town," it posted to Facebook.

"With the influx of Chinese tourists we wanted to be prepared to protect our community."

The first shipment of N95 respirator masks is expected to arrive on Monday.

The coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has slowly spread to the US, Japan, Thailand, France and more closer to home, Australia.

In the US, people have been urged to wear facemasks to prevent the virus from spreading.

In Wuhan, the public are required to wear face masks while at work and in public places.

The N95 mask is capable of blocking at least 95 percent of very small (0.3 micron) particles.

However Dr Theresa Tam, the chief public health officer of Canada, warns wearing a mask when you're well is "not an effective measure".

"Sometimes it can actually present some risks, as you're putting your fingers up and down on your face, removing your mask, putting them next to your eyes," she said during a media briefing earlier this week.

Dr Tam advises that the masks are more useful for people who are "actually sick."

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday it would not declare a global health emergency, despite cases of the virus being confirmed in Europe, as well as in the United States, Japan and Thailand. 

"Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. "Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing," says the WHO.