Global face mask shortage following coronavirus is risking lives, says WHO

Rising demand, hoarding and panic buying are causing severe shortages in face mask suppliesThe World Health Organisation (WHO) warns that growing disturbance to the global supply of protective equipment following the outbreak of coronavirus is putting lives at risk.

Rising demand, hoarding and panic buying are causing severe shortages in face mask supplies as well as gloves, goggles, and respirators.

Surgical face masks have seen a sixfold increase in prices since the outbreak of coronavirus.

As a result, WHO estimates that industry needs to increase manufacturing by 40% to meet global demand.

Additionally, the General Dental Council (GDC) states the dental industry is likely to face an increased burden if the coronavirus spreads further.

In a joint statement, it issued a number of procedural recommendations and advice to health and care professionals.

Health workers first

WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: ‘Without secure supply chains, the risk to worldwide healthcare is real.

‘Industry and governments must act quickly to boost supply and ease export restrictions. They must put measures in place to stop speculation and hoarding.

‘We can’t stop COVID-19 without protecting health workers first.’

The organisation advises that governments should foster incentives for industry to increase production.

Suggestions include easing the restrictions on the export and distribution of protective equipment and other healthcare supplies.

This comes as the UK government agreed to release stockpiled face mask supplies.