The first confirmed case of the coronavirus has added to an urgent clamouring for masks in South Africa. And as surgical masks continue to be in hot demand, South Africans are turning to dust masks.

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A spokesperson for Builders Warehouse confirmed an increased demand for dust masks, and by Friday these masks appeared to be sold out on its website. One contractor complained that he is now struggling to get dust masks:

Dust masks have also sold out on the Game website.

Takealot still sells a box of twenty dust masks for R2,300 - among a couple of other dust masks that are still available. 

Experts say masks may not protect you against the coronavirus, as you are more likely to get infected by touching contaminated surfaces and then your face, rather than from a cough-induced droplet travelling through the air.

Read: You will now pay up to R150 for a mask in SA due to coronavirus – and it may not work

But the National Institute for Communicable Diseases told Business Insider that a surgical mask will be effective in preventing the spreading of coronavirus. It says that the more durable N95 mask, which has a breathing valve, may be preferable.  One of the biggest medical product distributors in South Africa has run out of stock, however.

Read: Not all masks are equal when it comes to stopping coronavirus. Here’s what SA experts say

Disposable surgical masks are also getting tougher to find, with Dis-Chem's own-brand masks sold out on its website. It is unclear whether dust masks - which are designed to keep an individual from inhaling dust particles - will prevent the coronavirus from spreading. 

According to a US academic study, a dust mask had a lower "protective efficiency" than a bandana. 

(Compiled by Helena Wasserman)

More on office hygiene - here.

More on hand hygiene - here.  

More on Covid-19:

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