High demand for hand sanitizer and face masks leave some retailers out of stock, while others sell on Kijiji

The demand for hand sanitizer and face masks has left all the Shoppers Drug Mart locations in Winnipeg, among many other stores, out of stock.

Demand for the items has spiked since the start of the coronavirus outbreak

Several Winnipeg stores say they are out of hand sanitizer as people rush to stock up following the coronavirus outbreak. (Michael Wilson/CBC)

The demand for hand sanitizer and face masks has left all the Shoppers Drug Mart locations in Winnipeg, among many other stores, out of stock.

While no confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Manitoba, customers are flooding the stores in search of precautionary measures during the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

"My understanding … is that there have been some shortages when it comes to things like facial masks and hand sanitizer," provincial Health Minister Cameron Friesen​​​​​ said during a Tuesday press conference.

Many Walmart locations across the city are also sold out of face masks, and those with stock of hand sanitizer are limiting quantities to one or two bottles per customer. 

With high demand for masks and alcohol-based sanitizers online, classified ads have popped up on Kijiji, advertising inflated prices for the products. 

Some ads are asking upwards of $150 for 10 face masks. 

Ads on Kijiji provide sellers with products unavailable at stores for a heavy premium. (CBC)

CBC reached out to the posters of several of the ads, all of whom declined to comment. 

Licensed pharmacist Ryan Chan, though, urges Manitobans not to race to stores — but to simply continue washing their hands thoroughly. 

Hand-washing is still one of the best ways to prevent the spread of viruses, he says. While hand sanitizers are a good supplement, "the flow of running water actually removes the virus from your hands," said Chan.

As for face masks, a statement to CBC from the provincial Department of Health said public health officials are not recommending the use of masks in public places, saying there is little evidence that wearing masks significantly reduces the risk of getting the virus. 

Licensed pharmacist Ryan Chan urges Manitobans to wash their hands to help curb the spread of viruses. (Warren Kay/CBC)

Chan says those who are healthy and choose to wear a mask need to be cautious about touching their face.

"A lot of time you get [a virus] from your hands touching your face. Face masks should be worn if you're actually infected," he said. 

During question period at the legislature Wednesday, the health minister assured Manitobans that the risk of coronavirus remains low in the province. 

Friesen also said the government is taking all the necessary measures in response to the virus should it appear in the province.

Manitoba's health facilities are being monitored by Public Health Manitoba to ensure that personal protective equipment is available in health professionals and patients that need it.