KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 — The growing demand for N95-type face masks has led to its stock being almost depleted in the market as the people are now more aware of the importance of using the mask to protect themselves from the haze that has blanketed the nation.

Although there are various types of masks to cover the nose and mouth, the N95 mask has been recommended by the Health Ministry as it can filter at least 95 per cent of particles which measure at 0.3 microns and it works best when used properly and fits the wearer’s face.

Izzul Azri Mohd Asri, 23, who lives in Shah Alam, said the N95 mask was difficult to obtain at pharmacies or shops especially in urban areas due to the high demand now.

“Earlier last week, it was easier to buy the mask even though it was quite limited. But recently, most shops and pharmacies have run out of (the N95 mask) stock,” he told Bernama.

Izzul Azri said that there had been no increase in price and it had not exceeded the RM6 per unit fixed price as set in the controlled items list.

Meanwhile, Zulsyahmi Rahman,23, who lives in Klang also voiced his regrets at being unable to obtain the masks for himself and his family.

“My seven-year-old sister had to wear a surgical face mask because we could not buy the N95 mask as it was always out of stock. My sister started coughing and developed a fever as a result,” he added.

He said although N95 masks were not easily available, surgical masks were easier to find but most people were already aware of the need to use N95 type masks to protect themselves from the effects of haze and prevent diseases.

At the same time, efforts by some corporate companies in giving away N95 masks for free to the public and workers should be emulated.

A student in Shah Alam, Siti Nur Akma Abdol, 22, said she obtained a free N95 mask at a petrol station near her university.

Muhammad Nabil Ab Rahim, 23, who works for a company in Kajang, said his company provided the masks for free to its workers.

In Pendang, sale of face masks at a pharmacy here increased dramatically since yesterday, after the local community started taking precautions to protect themselves against the haze.

A pharmacy assistant, Nadia Izati Muhd Shabudin, 27, said in just two days more than 700 face masks were sold at the pharmacy and she reckons the number would increase if the Air Pollutant Index (API) gets worse.

“The high API in Kulim, Sungai Petani and Alor Setar had affected residents of Pendang so many have been coming for the face masks from yesterday evening until this morning. Some took 10 to 20 pieces each, or bought them by the boxes.

“The most popular ones are those with ear loops or tie strings as they are cheap and sold at 50 cents a piece compared to the N95 mask at RM8 each.

“Though the N95 mask is expensive, they are easily sold out due to its efficiency in filtering out extremely small particles,” she told Bernama here today.

Meanwhile no manipulation of prices to reap excess profits from sale of face masks have been detected in Terengganu, according to the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry (KPDNHEP) Terengganu branch.

Its director Saharuddin Mohd Kia said this was based on checks at 83 premises which were carried out since September 12.

“Some 110 enforcement personnel were involved in the operation which was focused on retail, wholesale outlets and pharmacies throughout Terengganu.

“So far traders have complied with the trade regulations and no action has been taken against anyone form the first day of the inspection,” he said in a statement today.

Elaborating Saharuddin said inspections would be carried out from time to time and if anyone is found taking advantage by hoarding or refusing to sell the item they would be investigated under the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act 2011.

Meanwhile, State Disaster Management Committee Secretariat chief Lt Colonel Che Adam A. Rahman said the committee would request for face masks from the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) to be distributed to schools which have been affected by the haze. — Bernama