Fear of coronavirus affects Amsterdam pharmacies

Several pharmacists in the Dutch capital are in lack of face mask because of coronavirus. Now they are waiting weeks for new deliveries.

Text: Iben Schmidt | Photo: Iben Schmidt

Amsterdam –
After the coronavirus disease broke out in South China, face masks all over the world have been selling out. Amsterdam seems to be no exception. 

Dam Apotheek in the center of Amsterdam taped a sign outside the door saying “Face masks sold out.” Other pharmacies across the city face the same problem. ”We have been sold out for nearly a week,” says Annemieke Hollander, pharmacist of Dam Apotheek, located in the center of Amsterdam. 

She adds that the pharmacy is out of face masks due to the fear of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. Annemieke Hollander calls the situation unusual and has now ordered three times more face masks than usual to cover the demand. She is waiting for new face masks to be delivered next week. 

Molukken Apotheek, which is located in the east part of Amsterdam, and Medicijnman Apotheek, placed next to University of Amsterdam, are also affected by the fear of coronavirus. “We cannot get them at the moment,” pharmacist Pierluigi Falabella from pharmacy Medicijnman Apotheek says.

Most buyers are from China

Pharmacist Annemieke Hollander describes the common buyers of the face masks as people from China. But this is not always the case, according the pharmacy close to University of Amsterdam: “Yesterday there were two Dutch guys buying face masks who were going to travel,” pharmacist Pierluigi Falabella says. 

More than 45,000 confirmed cases globally

As of 12 February, the coronavirus has killed more than 1,115 people globally and there has been found 45,171 confirmed cases according to World Health Organization

Excluding China, there are 24 countries reporting cases of COVID-19, a report from World Health Organization WHO states. There have not been confirmed any cases in the Netherlands so far.

The coronavirus causes coughs, fever, breathing difficulties and in some rare cases pneumonia. The virus might have jumped from animals to people at a Chinese animal market.

This Thursday, Health Ministers of the European Union Member States are set to meet to discuss possible preventive measures against the virus.

Update – 15 March 2020

Since the situation regarding the coronavirus has changed drastically in the Netherlands after this article was written in the middle of February, the shortage on mouthcaps has only increased. Local nurses in neighbourhoods in Amsterdam are now forced to use table cloths as a mouthcap to protect themselves.

But help is on its way; according to The Post Online (March 2020) neighbour country Germany is sending half a million mouthcaps to the Netherlands. Because of the drastic need of mouthcaps Germany made an exception on the export ban. The reason the Netherlands has to import the mouthcaps is because the country does not have factory that makes them.