Hundreds line up in Thailand to buy health masks to protect against COVID-19


The Thai Ministry of Commerce has expedited the manufacture of health masks to meet demand throughout the country. Hundreds of people joined queues today to buy health masks at outlets of the Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) in Bangkok, from as early as 4.00 a.m.

The people waited in line to buy health masks at a GPO drug store at the Ratchathevi branch which invited people to form a queue at 7.00 a.m. and began to provide them with medical masks at 8.00 a.m. One 78-year-old woman had arrived at 4.30 a.m. at the GPO drug store, which sells health masks at a lower price than other pharmacies.

The Ratchathevi branch caters to 150 people wishing to buy health masks on Saturdays and Sundays. Other GPO drug stores opening at 8.00 a.m. are the Yotse branch, Charan Sanitwong branch, Thevet branch and Vetchasart branch, which each provide masks for 100 people daily.

Deputy Prime Minister/Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said today that factories have increased their production volume to a combined 35 million health masks per month. He said 30% of that total is being provided for use at public hospitals, for medical personnel and nurses via the Ministry of Public Health and the Department of Internal Trade. Others will be distributed to relevant agencies, department stores, the Ministry of Commerce’s Blue Flag shops and retail stores nationwide.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of the Interior will provide cloth masks which are manufactured by local villagers and housewives. In addition, factories plan to manufacture an additional 50 million cloth masks. The Ministry of Public Health has assured members of the public that cloth masks can be used to protect people from COVID-19-infected patients who might sneeze, cough or touch them. A total of 100,000 health masks will be handed out daily from tomorrow at the Ministry of Public Health headquarters with each recipient being given three health masks free of charge.