Virus ‘protection’ keeping pharmacies busy

Making a beeline: People queueing up to buy masks and hand sanitisers at Caring Pharmacy in Petaling Jaya.


The pursuit for “protection” against the novel coronavirus has led to some Malaysians seeking traditional remedies at Chinese medicine shops.

These consumers would look for herbs like chrysanthemum, gam chou (liquorice) and other types of herbal tea such as lor hon kor, hoping these could be of help to them.

Chinese medicine shop owner Low Pak Koon said some customers came asking for a type of herb, which is in powder form, so they could smear it on their face mask.

“They thought that it could kill germs, based on what they read from Facebook, ” he said, amused.

Low said his business also boomed during the SARS outbreak in 2003.

“I had to restock herbal products very often back then as it would be sold out daily, ” he said.

However, hairdresser Yong Yoke Heong was of the view that unhealthy eating habits during the festive season and the hot

weather were more worrisome than the outbreak.

“I am buying herbal tea for my children to ‘cool’ their body after eating junk over the past week, ” she said at Petaling Street yesterday.

Chinese medicine shop owner Low Pak Koon said customers would generally look for herbs that could help regulate their body temperature and for detoxification.

However, another medicine shop owner, Ng Chee Yat, said the coronavirus outbreak had caused his business to slow down.

“People are avoiding crowded areas. My shop is in the centre of Petaling Street, ” he said.

Meanwhile, pharmacies are still catering to larger numbers looking to buy face masks specifically the three ply ones and hand sanitisers.

“We even have people coming from other countries looking for face masks. They are mostly Singaporeans and people from China, ” said a pharmacist who wished to be known only as Wann.

Pharmacist Nurul Nazihah said they had to limit the number of face masks that each customer could buy.

“Our supplier has limited stock for the three-ply face mask. Once we restock them, they are sold out within five minutes.

“We have had customers fighting for face masks. So, we decided to limit each customer to just one box. Each box contains 50 face masks, ” she said.

Another pharmacist, Cheong Ngee Koon, 35, said: “Customers would come in the early morning just to buy face masks. Just this morning, we had customers lining up outside our store at 8.45am.”

A check on several pharmacies showed that no face masks were available.

One outlet in SS2, Petaling Jaya said “just too many people” had been coming to the shop.

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