Global hand sanitizer shortage reaches Yellowknife

Every hour, someone asks Germin Laganas for hand sanitizer. The answer? She’s out. 

'There's just not enough being produced for the demand right now'

Germin Laganas is a pharmacy technician with the Co-op Pharmacy. She's out of Purell. (Sara Minogue/CBC)

Every hour, someone asks Germin Laganas for hand sanitizer. The answer? She's out. 

The pharmacy technician at the Co-op Pharmacy in Yellowknife said she had 18 large bottles of Purell hand sanitizer on Thursday. 

She sold out the same day. 

Aaron La Borde is a pharmacist at Sutherland's Drugs. 

"There's just not enough being produced for the demand right now so we are not able to get any," he said. 

Aaron La Borde, a pharmacist at Sutherland's Drugs, advises customers to use soap and water. (Sara Minogue/CBC)

Stores that do get it are being limited in how much they can order. 

A staffer at The Medicine Shoppe told the CBC the same thing. So did Shoppers Drugs Mart pharmacist Diane Richardson. "I don't have any right now."

Old-fashioned advice

La Borde says he's telling customers to wash their hands using soap and water, and he's telling them often: he says every third call he's getting is about hand sanitizer, up to 20 a day. 

He also recommends people follow the general recommendations issued by N.W.T. health officials for avoiding catching the coronavirus.

That includes:

  • not touching your face,
  • washing hands often,
  • coughing and sneezing into the bend of your arm (not your hand),
  • and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces many people touch, such as phones, doorknobs, and television remotes. 

A few bottles left

There was still one small bottle of Purell hand sanitizer available at the Reddi-Mart on Old Airport Road. That store also had five spray bottles of X3 Germ Attack hand sanitizer. 

Yellowknife's Reddi-Mart on Old Airport Road had five bottles of Germ Attack hand sanitizer spray left as of 2 p.m. March 6. (Sara Minogue/CBC)

Canadian Tire, meanwhile, has been out for five days, said Karim Hamada. 

The Co-op Gas Bar doesn't sell hand sanitizer, but they do have two large bottles of hand sanitzer on the counter for their staff to use. 

The Independent uptown had nine six-packs of multicoloured 18 millilitre President's Choice brand hand sanitizer. 

Even Walmart was out. 

Karim Hamada, a staffer at Canadian Tire, says they've been out of hand sanitizer for five days. (Sara Minogue/CBC)

A customer service clerk, who asked not to be named, said he put out 48 1L bottles of Purell hand sanitizer on March 3. He sold 45 the same day, and the last three the next day.

But he has 48 more coming on March 10. 

That clerk says he's seen lots of people buying canned goods and non-perishables. "It's going crazy," he said, adding that the store is not anywhere near running out of any canned goods. 

"Just mainly hand sanitizer."


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