Czechs stocking up on facemasks and basic pharmaceuticals, but no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Czech Republic yet

Photo: ČTK/AP/Kin Cheung

While there are still no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the Czech Republic, facemask and basic pharmaceuticals sales are going through the roof as many have chosen to take precautions. These involve prevention measures in one of the country’s most popular local destinations for Chinese tourists.

Photo: ČTK/AP/Kin Cheung
You may not notice it on Czech streets, but facemasks are in high demand right now.

Just this weekend, sales of the item on the country’s largest online pharmaceuticals store Dr. Max, increased 70 times over, the company’s spokesman Dr Michal Petrov told Czech Radio. Other pharmacy networks have also registered increased interest.

For example, Benu, a company that runs some 200 stores in the country, announced at the beginning of the week that its facemask supply had been sold out.

Among those eager to purchase facemasks are vendors in the picturesque South Bohemian town of Český Krumlov, a popular destination for Chinese tourists, the news site reports. The local chateau has also expanded its disinfectant supplies and employees are soon to receive gloves.

According to iDnes, some hotels have also registered an increase in cancelled reservations from China.

However, the rapid increase in facemask sales does not have to be exclusively connected to the coronavirus scare, but generally with the ongoing season of acute illnesses, the Czech Chamber of Pharmacists has pointed out.

Epidemiologist Dr Kateřina Fabiánová from the State Health Department says that basic facemasks lower the risk of infection from respiratory diseases such as the coronavirus or ordinary influenza only very little, although they may help people feel calmer when venturing outdoors.

“I can’t prevent anyone from buying a mask, but we have a high level of healthcare on our continent, so I do not see a reason to panic.”

The number of possible carriers in the country went down to two on Tuesday, after test results for two patients came in negative.

However, a group of six foreign nationals, who have a fever and recently came into contact with an individual from an area affected by the virus, were transported to Prague’s Na Bulovce hospital on Tuesday morning as a preventative measure.

Kateřina Fabiánová, photo: Czech Television
A special team has been established at the hospital to transport and care for patients who fulfil the criteria necessary for establishing preventative measures and Dr Fabiánová says that other hospitals across the country are on standby.

“Currently there is an investigation under way conducted by the National reference laboratories and algorithms detailing how to proceed in suspected cases are in place.

“Furthermore, regional and faculty hospitals, aside from Na Bulovce, have been selected to take care of patients who may be suspected of carrying the virus, should the need arise.”

On Tuesday the first confirmed case of a patient being infected with the coronavirus was announced in neighbouring Germany.