Coronavirus fears: Edinburgh Boots stores run out of medical face masks

Boots pharmacy stores across the Capital are out of protective face masks.

Friday, 24th January 2020, 2:01 pm
Updated Friday, 24th January 2020, 3:32 pm

The major clearance has come after three patients were taken into Edinburgh Royal Infirmary yesterday to be tested for the suspected coronavirus.

The pharmaceutical giant's store in Patrick Street, Newington, has a sign up on the window warning customers: "Unfortunately we do not have any surgical or face masks in store."

According to an Edinburgh Boots employee in the Patrick Street branch, several Boots stores have also run out of antibacterial products such as hand gels and sanitisers.

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"We are completely out of stock for the masks and the hand gels," she said.

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"There are certainly a lot more customers coming in at the moment, and hundreds are asking for masks on a daily basis."

She said pharmacists in stores across the city are being asked for protective masks about 200 a day since the suspected coronavirus scare.

Boots stores across Edinburgh have run out of protective face masks after patients in hospital were tested for the suspected coronavirus picture: Google

"People keep coming in, mainly Chinese students, asking for face masks but we have completely run out, across the whole city.

"I don't know who the other pharmacies use for suppliers, but our suppliers are completely out.

"We have also run out of all hand gels and sanitisers at our store."

Boots in Patrick Street, Edinburgh, has a sign up warning customers it is out of surgical masks

Professor Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen, said masks are not an effective way of protecting people from the virus.

He said: “A mask is not particularly effective as most of the air comes out the other side of the mask when you’re breathing.

“I’ve always been suspicious of surgical type masks.

"They were introduced about 100 years ago and they’ve never been properly assessed and the way that people wear them suggests to me that although they may reduce transmission a bit but they certainly don’t make you safe.

"If you’re breathing in contaminated air the only way to stop the virus is to have proper filters and the cotton masks that people have don’t fill round the edge."