DOH sets price freeze on N95 masks

THE ash fall brought about by the eruption of the Taal Volcano in Batangas has prompted the Department of Health (DOH) to issue a price freeze on the sale of N95 masks.

Although Cebu is not directly affected by the disaster, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) 7 Director Asteria Caberte said the bulk buying of N95 masks has affected its supply chain.

“What happens is that there are groups of kind-hearted Cebuanos that buy this kind of mask in bulk to give to those affected residents. It triggers the spike of demand here in Cebu. This may cause a shortage and eventually, a price increase,” she continued.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the N95 mask is the most common of the seven types of particulate filtering face piece respirators.

This product filters 95 percent of airborne particles, but is not resistant to oil.

The price freeze provides that N95 masks should be sold for between P45 to P105.

Anyone caught violating the price freeze will be dealt with firmly by the concerned agencies, Caberte said.

While in the process of consolidating their data, Caberte said DTI has already fielded teams to monitor the price and supply of the N95 masks in Cebu.

Based on their initial report, the N95 supply in Cebu is still “okay.”

“But then we are watching very closely the supply situation, together with the DOH because we are anticipating that we might have some increases in the prices. We don’t like to preempt the action of our consumers, but we are just watching,” Caberte said.

Shiela Arcilla, an employee of a healthcare and beauty care chain along Colon St. in Cebu City, said their supply of N95 masks ran out a day after the Taal Volcano erupted.

An N95 mask is sold at their store for P67 per piece.

“Since the eruption, we still have yet to replenish our N95 supply. We don’t usually stock a lot of it because it is not that fast-selling but now, we have requested for additional supply. There was also a notable sale of that mask when the haze from Indonesia reached Cebu,” Arcilla said in Cebuano.

A drugstore cashier on F. Ramos St., who asked not to be named, said both of their washable and disposable N95 masks went out of stock a day after the Taal eruption.

Their store sells disposable N95 masks at P67.25 apiece, while the reusable N95 mask is sold at P100 apiece.

Caberte said the suppliers, retailers and distributors, through the National Price Coordinating Council, have committed not to increase the price of N95 masks for now.

As of Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020, over 10,000 families or 43,681 persons have taken temporary shelter in 217 evacuation centers in Batangas, Cavite and Laguna.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said Batangas reported damage of P69,280,500 worth of corn, coffee and livestock while Cavite said it incurred damage of P5,628,800 worth of the same products. (WBS)


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