‘Climbing over each other’: Chaos in scramble for masks

 

Panicked residents in Victoria's coronavirus hot spots have been rushing to buy face masks before the mandatory rule is enforced.

Premier Daniel Andrews' announcement that from 11.59pm on Wednesday, those not wearing masks or facial coverings will receive a $200 fine.

As a result, shops in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire have seen an influx of customers this afternoon rushing to buy the soon-to-be essential item.

On Twitter, people have described scenes of total chaos and wild queues as people "climb over each other" to buy either pre-made masks or the equipment needed to make their own.

"It is going NUTS here; car park full and queue of about 50 people waiting to get in!" one wrote, sharing a photo from a queue outside a Spotlight store.

"Lines up to 30 minutes at Spotlight in Springvale. Sewing machines almost gone. Everyone buying fabric to make their own masks after mandatory rules set for residents in Melbourne lockdown areas," Herald Sun journalist Brooke Grebert-Craig wrote.

Victoria’s new mandatory face mask rule has caused a frenzy for the essential item in stores across Melbourne. Picture: Twitter
Victoria’s new mandatory face mask rule has caused a frenzy for the essential item in stores across Melbourne. Picture: Twitter

"Massive queue outside Chemist Warehouse … presumably getting masks just hours after mandatory masking in Victoria announced even though doesn't kick in for another three days," another tweeted.

"I was just in Chemist Warehouse and they are selling small boxes of disposable masks for $50. People climbing over each other getting as many as they can carry. Not good," a Melburnian tweeted of his experience.

Some expressed concern over the mad rush to snag a mask before the mandatory rule came in, pointing out the shopping expedition was in contrast to the government's "stay home" message.


Another user on Facebook said they had to join the "panic buying queue" outside a Chemist Warehouse where they bought a box of 50 disposable masks for $44 - pointing out an eerie detail on the item.

"Look where they're made?" the user wrote, showing a label on the side that read the masks were manufactured in Wuhan, China - where the first coronavirus outbreak occurred.

Some have noticed an eerie detail in the boxes of face masks people are lining up for. Picture: Facebook
Some have noticed an eerie detail in the boxes of face masks people are lining up for. Picture: Facebook

Another person on Twitter spotted the same detail on the Softmed Face Mask.

Others urged people not to panic, sharing a trick to turn old socks into a facial covering.

"All you need is a sock and scissors," Twitter user Donal Scannell wrote.

However advice around the new rule is a little confusing.

Premier Andrews said earlier today it "can be a scarf, it can be a homemade mask", which is in contradiction to the previous advice cloth masks needed a minimum of 2-3 layers to be most effective.

Epidemiologist Dr Abrar Ahmad Chughtai from the University of New South Wales said there were notable details to look for when purchasing or making a cloth face mask to ensure it works.

"Use two or three layers of fabric. Choose fabric with a high thread count - so a tighter weave, for instance, from a good quality sheet is generally better than a fabric (mask) with a looser weave that you can clearly see light through," he wrote in a blog post Monday.

"Fabrics made with more than one type of thread, for instance cotton - silk, cotton - chiffon, or cotton - flannel, may be good choices because they provide better filtration and are more comfortable to wear."

Daniel Andrews said people could use a scarf as a facial covering once the new rule comes into play. Picture: Andrew Henshaw
Daniel Andrews said people could use a scarf as a facial covering once the new rule comes into play. Picture: Andrew Henshaw

On Thursday, cloth masks were found to be the "best weapon" when fighting the spread of coronavirus by two separate studies in the US, after surgical masks had previously been thought to be more effective.

Previously, health advice from Australia's chief medical officer Professor Paul Kelly stated wearing a face mask wasn't necessary.

But in the wake of Victoria's recent virus surge this advice had changed for people living in Greater Melbourne.

Continue the conversation @RebekahScanlan | rebekah.scanlan@news.com.au

Originally published as 'It's nuts': Chaos in scramble for masks

Sewing machines are nearly sold out just hours after the announcement was made. Picture: Twitter
Sewing machines are nearly sold out just hours after the announcement was made. Picture: Twitter

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