As reports continue of people stockpiling food, toilet paper and hand sanitizer due to the COVID-19 outbreak, there are now concerns about unscrupulous people trying to steal supplies from hospitals.
Sources tell Global News that at at least two hospitals — St. Paul’s and B.C. Children’s hospital — workers have had to step in and stop people from trying to steal boxes of masks.
“There have been some examples of that. I don’t believe it’s widespread,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix, Thursday.
“Obviously it’s something we condemn and would take action against.”
B.C. Nurses’ Union president Christine Sorensen said she’s not sure people are stealing, but said supplies are definitely being drained quickly.
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She said fear has more and more people requesting masks in health care facilities, even when they don’t need them.
“What they’ve done is place them in areas where they are secure,” said Sorensen.
“Supplies are going down quickly, need to be replenished frequently, so we’re asking the public to be aware of why these things are there, leave them in place in the hospital, please don’t take them and take them home.”
Sorensen said surgical masks are not effective at preventing COVID-19 transmission.
But she said she is concerned about the supply of things such as N95 respirator masks, which nurses need in order to ensure they are safe in the workplace.
“Those masks need to be available for the healthcare staff,” she said.
Dix said the province is preparing to make a detailed technical presentation on its preparations for a possible pandemic on Friday.
He said the province has been talking with the other provinces and the federal government to ensure B.C.’s “supply chain for medical supplies is not just intact, but enhanced.”
-With files from Jill Bennett