Until the coronavirus outbreak, only tourists from the Far East could have been spotted in Hungary wearing face masks outside medical facilities, but these masks have now become one of the country’s hottest-selling items in the past few weeks, business portal HVG reports.
Prices of the cheapest, single-use paper masks at the few online retailers who sell them have gone up from 25 froints (seven euro cents) to 100 forints (30 euro cents), but none of these sold-out products can be purchased on the web or at pharmacies anyway.
Pharmacists told HVG that every year around January – the onset of the traditional flu season – demand for face masks spikes, but this year demand has been so high that both retailers and wholesalers have run out of them. Wholesalers indicated that the next mask shipments will only arrive in a month or so.
As an alternative, pharmacists now advise customers to buy dust-filtering face masks carried by DIY stores, but these are generally seen as both less effective and too uncomfortable to wear all day.
Pharmacists also say that face masks alone do not offer complete protection.
Meanwhile, the National Headquarters of Correctional Facilities announced that inmates of the Debrecen prison have begun the production of face masks at the prison’s in-house plant and expect to churn out some 20,000 pieces per week.
Title image: Inmates at the Debrecen prison making face masks (MTI/Zsolt Czeglédi)