The southern French city of Marseille has reported the theft of nearly 2,000 surgical masks amid coronavirus outbreak. The surgical masks have been stolen from a hospital in the city, health authorities said on Tuesday. According to media reports, the masks were pilfered from a part of the Conception hospital that is accessible only to staff and patients who have undergone surgery.
The hospital authorities had assured of the availability of enough masks so that the operations may continue as normal. However, it had ordered more masks and had taken steps to secure its stocks of both masks and sanitising hand gels.
News of the theft came as President Emmanuel Macron announced that the authorities would requisition all face mask stocks and production in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Macron said they would be reserved for coronavirus patients and health professionals.
France has confirmed the death of four people so far due to coronavirus, while 204 others remain infected with the deadly disease.
Meanwhile, fear of the spreading coronavirus has led to a global run on sales of face masks despite evidence that most people who aren’t sick don’t need to wear them.
Many businesses are sold out, while others are limiting how many a customer can buy. Amazon is policing its site, trying to make sure sellers don’t gouge panicked buyers.
In South Korea, hundreds lined up to buy masks from a discount store. Rumors that toilet paper and napkins could be used as masks have emptied store shelves in Asia of paper goods over the past few weeks.
People trying to protect themselves from the outbreak and medical centers alike are facing shortages.