Mask shortage hits medical institutions

A shortage of face masks in Japan is affecting medical institutions amid the spread of the new coronavirus. One chain clinic says it's gravely concerned.

Navitas Clinic has offices in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward and Tachikawa City, as well as Kawasaki City near Tokyo.

The clinic last Saturday was told by its medical equipment wholesaler that it was out of all anti-infection products, including masks and antiseptic solutions.

The wholesaler also said it was not sure when it would be able to get new supplies, and that it was canceling all orders it received from clinics since the previous day.

The clinic tried to place orders with other wholesalers, but found all such products were sold out.

The clinic gives masks to patients with symptoms such as fever and coughs to prevent infection. Nurses and other staff also wear masks.

Its Shinjuku office has about 450 masks. But they're expected to run out in about two weeks unless the situation changes.

The clinic's Doctor Eiji Kusumi says he heard that drugstores are also out of masks, but that he didn't imagine such a shortage would hit medical equipment wholesalers. He adds that some institutions may have placed mass orders for medical treatment masks, as they are different from ordinary ones.