SARS scare prompts brisk sales of masks

  • Letters
  • Wednesday, 02 Apr 2003

THE sale of masks has soared in Johor Baru following the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome scare, with some shops imposing a purchase limit of three boxes per buyer, Nanyang Siang Pau reported. 

The majority of purchasers were Singaporeans and Malaysians working on the island, according to a marketing executive of a pharmacy. 

The executive said that sales of maskshad surged from less than a box a day prior to the SARS outbreak in Singapore to over 20 boxes per day recently. 

Nanyang also reported that villagers in Batu 12 New Village off Bidor Road, Teluk Intan, had been urged to exercise extra caution following the hospitalisation of an 84-year-old man there with suspected SARS.  

Villagers who had been in contact with the man prior to his admission to hospital had been advised to go for a medical checkup. 

The China Press in its editorial has urged the government to be transparent in handling the SARS scare. 

It said the current strategy practised by the Health Ministry had failed to calm the public and instead created more room for rumours and paranoia. 

The editorial also expressed disappointment with the health authorities for failing to response to various press queries, such as on “information” provided by the public on suspected SARS cases.  

The daily also questioned the logic of the health department and hospital personnel in remaining silent to prevent the issue from being blown out of proportion. 

The newspaper stressed that such a move would only increase the anxiety of the public. 

Sin Chew Daily reported that some residents in Johor Baru – the closest city to Singapore – were showing signs of awareness about SARS as they had equipped themselves with masks and taken other precautionary measures such as turning to traditional herbs to boost the immune system.  

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