Winnipeggers hoping to snag a KN95 mask will likely turn up empty-handed.
A Global News reporter spent hours contacting several establishments to find where KN95 masks might be available, and turned up nothing.
Twenty places were contacted in total.
Multiple Superstore, Walmart and Safeway sites were phoned, along with pharmacies and Liquor Marts spread throughout the city.
Twenty-five per cent of the locations said they were sold out of the masks and were waiting on shipments to come in. Most were uncertain on when the new packages would arrive — times ranged from within the week to weeks from now due to backorder.
The other 75 per cent of establishments said they didn’t sell KN95 masks and were unsure whether they’d have them in the future.
All but one of the Liquor Marts handing out free masks had run out by Monday afternoon. The one that did have masks said their stock was low.
Canadians are being urged to ditch certain types of masks in favour of ones experts say will provide more protection against the new, rapidly spreading Omicron variant.
The head of Ontario’s Science Advisory Table, Dr. Peter Juni, said that single-layer cloth face masks may not be enough to protect against Omicron.
“The issue here is if you have a single-layer, the ability to filtrate is absolutely minimal and doesn’t make a difference whatsoever,” said Juni, who pointed to the use of N95 respirators as a more effective option.
The renewed discussion about mask use comes as Canada’s Omicron-driven fifth wave continues to drive daily case counts to record numbers not seen in months, pushing provinces to enact a slew of public health measures and restrictions.
The province began shipping a supply of KN95 masks to Liquor Marts for free distribution to people who stopped in and asked for a package. As of now, the province seems to have shipped out most of their 1.2 million supply.
The last batch of 600,000 was mostly dispensed to areas outside of Winnipeg.
— with files from Elisha Dacey and David Lao