Estonian Pharmacies Association calls for public's understanding in face mask shortage

  • 2020-03-23
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Pharmacists do not have any protective face masks to sell to the general public even though they are wearing them themselves while at work, the Estonian Pharmacies Association said, calling for the public's understanding.

Hoarding of protective masks has been ongoing since the coronavirus outbreak first began in China, and as a result, said masks have not been available at Estonian pharmacies for a while, spokespeople for the Pharmacies Association said.

Like any other health care workers, pharmacists, too, wear masks to protect themselves and customers alike. As pharmacists daily come into contact with hundreds of people, all of whom may be potential virus carriers, the state has allocated masks to them from the defense forces' reserve. Pharmacists wearing masks while being unable to sell them to people has sparked indignation among customers.

Pharmaceuticals can only be sold by a trained professional. For that reason it is vital that pharmacists should be able to continue using personal protection equipment in order to prevent pharmacies closing due to pharmacists falling ill, the association said.

In relation to family doctors and hospitals calling off outpatient appointments and treatment, a large share of the population needs something from the pharmacy, which has imposed large burdens on pharmacies and increased the workload of pharmacists by severalfold. The personal protection equipment allocated from the state's reserve is used to protect both customers and pharmacists, who also serve as first-level health care workers, providing advice on pharmaceuticals and minor health issues alike, the Pharmacies Association said.