The Dilemma of Face Mask Shortages

A survey was conducted by a reputed news network in March 2020, amidst the worldwide Coronavirus outbreak. Travelers were asked how many people they saw wearing a face mask during their journey. The results showed 30% of the participants reporting they saw no one wearing a mask while 49% reported they saw 1 to 5 face mask users.

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Experts claim that this carelessness of sorts that has been present in a majority of the population in the initial days of the outbreak has led to the current severity of the situation. But the people are not the only ones to blame. It has been accepted that governments around the world have failed to prepare for a pandemic.

 

The obvious sign of this failure is the shortage of face masks that a majority of the world is facing. The United States of America is suffering the most as a result of this shortage currently. This article will try to delve into the reasons for the current situation, how a face mask could be useful, and what it means for the upcoming days.

 

Backdrop

The first Coronavirus case was reported in December of 2019 in the Wuhan region of China. At that time, the world had little to no idea of the pandemic that will follow. As of April 2020, the outbreak has resulted in millions of cases and deaths worldwide. The worst-hit countries include China, the United States, Italy, Spain, among others.

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has reported that a vaccine that would be the answer to this virus would take almost 18 months to develop and distribute. As a measure to stop the spread of the virus, many countries have enforced the lockdown protocol bringing a significant part of the world to a standstill.

 

Furthermore, as a protective measure against the virus, face masks and sanitizers have been deemed compulsory by most governments of the world. These protective gear are meant to shield the people from the Coronavirus. However, wrong decisions on the parts of the government and the failure of citizens to understand the severity of the situation have led to a facemask shortage.

 

About the shortage

Even before the Coronavirus outbreak, the use of a facemask was common in many parts of the world. This was due to the high air pollution levels in those regions. Manufacturers like Oxybreath Pro excelled in developing masks that would filter the harmful components. 

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These multi-layer masks such as OxyBreath Pro could be used daily, and have a Nano-technology Polyurethane filter. These masks are quite popular, and before the outbreak the production of such masks was steady.

 

Before the pandemic broke out, China was the world’s leading producer of face masks. The country accounted for half of the world’s total face mask production. With the Coronavirus outbreak, most parts of China went under lockdown in February 2020, bringing the production to a standstill. 

 

In the same month, the United States government and other world governments sent huge consignments of face masks and protective gear to China.

In the upcoming days, when it became that the world was facing a pandemic, there was a lot of panic buying of face masks. So much so, that the manufacturers were unable to cope up with the demand. Gradually, it became imminent that even the front line workers were facing a shortage of face masks. These workers need to change their protective gear frequently to avoid contracting the deadly virus.

 

With a significant part of the production at a standstill, it became increasingly difficult to supply face masks to the common public. In April 2020, the United States banned the export of face masks to help its citizens and front line workers. Experts suggest that this decision could have a potentially negative effect on the battle against the Coronavirus.

 

If more countries follow the USA’s footsteps and ban the export of face masks, it is feared that poorer nations will suffer severely from the outbreak. The USA has already reported secondary infections among the frontline workers, and experts fear the lack of protection could propel these numbers.

 

The shortage has even compelled health workers to use a single mask per day. N95 masks have been deemed the best ones to combat the virus and governments are trying to ensure each health worker with the necessary gears. China has been slowly starting productions, but it will take some time to meet worldwide demand.

 

Conclusion

Many have criticized China for cornering the market, and some have even criticized world governments for their failure to prepare for the pandemic. However, it is agreed by everyone that in the absence of a vaccine, the shortage of face masks would only result in difficult days ahead.

In the same survey conducted by the news network, an individual was asked why he was not wearing a face mask. He promptly replied, it is quite uncomfortable to use, and he doesn’t believe there would be any widespread need for using one anytime soon.    

    

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