As the number of people falling victim to the Wuhan virus rises, stocks of surgical face masks are plunging across Asia, as anxious citizens form snaking queues at supermarkets and pharmacies to stock up.
Over the past week, netizens claim masks have sold at out most stores in cities like Singapore, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, with many uploading photos and videos of the insane queues that have formed in stores still offering precious stocks of the item.
Videos revealed scenes similar to those in Hong Kong and Shanghai, with queues wending through malls and ending in beleaguered pharmacy outlets.
Despite assurances that there were sufficient mask stocks in the country, many locals voiced doubt online, saying stores were all sold out.
Over in Singapore, lengthy queues also materialised, despite the Government telling citizens they did not require masks unless they showed symptoms of illness.
A Twitter photo taken in the Philippines’ capital of Manila showed people crowding a hospital corridor to purchase masks. “They ran out of masks at [two pharmacies] so we’re here at St. Luke’s Medical Center, and the queue is so long we’re all filling up the hallway,” the user wrote.
One two-minute video showed the insane length of the queues, with some shoppers even bringing their own foldable chairs to sit on while waiting in line.
… and even outdoors. According to netizens, queues could easily last four hours long, with some people still walking away empty-handed.
The queues in malls were not limited to just one floor, but stretched across multiple storeys…
The same scene unfolded in Choi Ming Mall in Hong Kong’s Tiu Keng Leng area earlier on Jan 24. Netizens said it was normal to have queues form rapidly anytime people discovered a store had stocks of face masks.
In neighbouring Hong Kong, jaw-dropping queues were photographed across the city, such as this one in the Tai Po district on Jan 29.
A Jan 28 video by Chinese political activist Badiucao showed a crowd in Jiujiang – a city near Wuhan currently under lockdown – pushing and shoving against a metal gate to buy face masks from factory personnel.
In some places, fights even broke out in queues as tensions flared between anxious customers.
Queues for the masks have gotten so incredibly long that videos of them have been uploaded on social media, such as this one from Wednesday (Jan 29).
As the Wuhan virus sweeps across China, citizens have begun wearing masks en masse to protect themselves, leading to a nationwide shortage of the product. In Shanghai, snaking queues at pharmacies started forming as early as Wednesday (Jan 22).