Government orders 30 million masks as flu panic grows

Britons rush to buy protection against swine flu virus

Thousands of panic-stricken Britons are rushing out to buy ‘protection’ against the swine flu virus. The move comes amidst news that the government today ordered 30 million facemasks to meet demand.

The Department of Health is believed to be in discussions with Moldex, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of disposable face masks.

The past few days has seen Internet shoppers buying so-called ‘anti-swine kits‘ online in thousands. Priced around £20, they provide face masks, disposable coveralls, gloves, blue elasticated over-shows, disinfectant cleansing wipes and alcohol hand rubs.

But medical experts are already suggesting that such purchases do little to protect the wearer, and could actually spread the disease.

Speaking to the Daily Mail,  Dr Rosemary Leonard, a GP who sits on the board of the Health Protection Agency, warned shoppers of the dangers of buying masks online.

‘Once they are wet, they don’t work and because of respiration they become damp fairly quickly,’ she said. ‘If you wore one for two or three hours, it wouldn’t offer any protection because it becomes more porous and any virus would just seep in. Money could be better spent on antiviral medication.

As fears of a pandemic swept across the UK, health agencies are working together to see how best to protect the country in the case of a widespread outbreak. Transport For London is working on ‘contingency measures’, which will be put in place if the crisis worsens.

But in the meantime, medical supplies company such justgloves.co.uk, which sells face masks, said there had been a huge increase in demand from both businesses and individuals. ‘It would appear people are preparing themselves in case the worse comes to the worst,’ a spokesman said.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE HEALTH NEWS

ARE YOU A TWITTERER? FOLLOW US HERE!

BECOME A MARIE CLAIRE FACEBOOK FAN HERE

Reading now

Popular