COVID 19: Worsening PPE shortages threaten responses to outbreaks, WHO warns

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Shortages of masks, goggles, gloves and other gear needed to protect health workers from infection are threatening responses of to the spread of COVID-19 globally amid what World Health Organization Director-General today called “severe and increasing disruption” to global supplies of the medical equipment.

Increased demand, as well as unneeded use, and panic hoarding personal protective equipment — or PPE — also are leading to price gouging with the price of surgical masks increasing six-fold, N95-respirator masks increasing three-fold, and the costs of gowns doubling he said, with supplies “often sold to the highest bidder.”

With an estimated 89 million medical masks, 76 million medical gloves, and 1.6 million goggles projected to be needed for health responders in each of the months ahead, production of personal protective equipment needs to increase by about 40%, Dr. Tedros said.

The shortages are a sign of what is likely to be just the first phase of panic-driven disruptions in essential supplies, WHO officials said, with concerns that essential medicines, including for HIV, and for maternal and child health care could be next.

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