Hand sanitizer is in short supply in Niagara-on-the-Lake, in fact, all but non-existent, across the country and internationally.
Manufacturers can’t keep up.
All three pharmacies and two grocery stores in town report alarm over coronavirus has caused a run on those products, which when ordered are either not delivered, or small quantities may arrive and be quickly sold out.
Phil Leboudec of Phil’s valu-mart says the frenzy over hand sanitizers is adding to the panic, and asks shoppers if they see the product available, “don’t buy five of them, leave some for others.”
Canadians are becoming more aware of the virus, and in some cases more nervous, but as Leboudec says, experts are saying the risk is still low, and there is no reason for panic.
Julie Dyck of Niagara Stone Road Pharmacy says she was expecting an order of hand sanitizer this week, but couldn’t be sure how many, if any, she will receive — it’s in short supply everywhere and is being allocated in limited amounts. Aloe Vera and isopropyl alcohol, ingredients that can make hand sanitizer, are also in short supply. She is telling customers the same as everyone else — wash your hands with soap, and try not to touch your face.
“People touch their faces on average about 90 times a day. We have to be mindful of that. Wearing gloves won’t protect us, but they might help to remind us.”
Staff at One Earth, on Victoria Street, as of Tuesday had sanitizing lotion they make on the premises, and have been busy producing as much as they can.
There are only four of them, says owner Terri-Lynn Woodhouse, and they are taking orders and shipping it, as well as selling it in their store.
It’s a product they have developed in response to the demand for hand sanitizers, and is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic and anti-microbial, says Woodhouse. It is also a moisturizer, and contains ethyl alcohol, glycerin, D-Limonene, orange blossom and other essential oils, as well as cetyl alcohol. It will be in limited supply, as ingredients will run out, she says.
Sean Simpson of Simpson’s Pharmacy agrees washing hands thoroughly and frequently with soap, although drying to the skin, is more effective, although it may not always be convenient when you’re out. “Find a restaurant with soap and water. There is always plenty of that available. Being careful what you touch, avoiding contact with surfaces when you’re out, and keeping your hands away from your face, is a healthy practice for all of us to remember, and will help prevent the spread of all germs, not just coronavirus, he says.
Alcohol swabs are an alternative when traveling, he adds, and some people are making a decision in favour of fist or elbow bumping when they meet, instead of hand-shaking.
“This is a virus that’s transmitted like the flu. And good hygiene is always the best way to stay healthy,” says Simpson.
Also, he says, if you have symptoms that suggest the virus, such as a high fever and cough, “contact public health and don’t go out. Don’t come to us. Call, and we’ll deliver what you need to you. Don’t come to the pharmacy or the medical offices.”
For those who are worried about tourism as it relates to the spread of the coronavirus, Lord Mayor Betty Disero and Mayor Jim Diodati of Niagara Falls issued a joint statement Tuesday.
It said, in part, the busy tourism season is just over the horizon and Niagara is looking forward to welcoming millions of visitors from all over the world. Coronavirus “may understandably cause increased interest among residents and businesses as to potential local impacts.”
The situation is being continually monitored and remains under control, their message said.
Town and City staff have been “reviewing emergency procedures and business continuity plans to ensure that, should the situation change, continued, safe and seamless service will remain available to residents and the public.
“Additionally, our respective staff and emergency services departments are working closely with Public Health to follow their plan for prevention and communication. We have been in touch with those organizations in our areas who typically draw visitors, and have ensured that they have their own protocols and procedures in place as well. We are being proactive as communities.”
The risk remains low, it says, and at this time, there are no confirmed cases in Niagara.
“As the situation changes, the public will be notified immediately.”
In the meantime, their advice is to adhere to the prevention guidelines laid out by Niagara Region Public Health:
• Stay home if you’re sick
• Wash your hands often
• Cover your cough or sneeze
• Keep your distance
• Avoid sharing personal items
• Clean and disinfect