The price of surgical masks has shot up by a staggering 900 per cent during the coronavirus crisis, from just 70 cents to $7.
The jump comes amid reports of dramatic increases for protective equipment, as hospitals, aged care centres, pathology labs and government departments across Australia struggle to source reliable suppliers.
Queensland Health Director-General Dr John Wakefield revealed the huge increase in mask prices on Friday, when asked if the state had enough protective gear for health workers.
He is confident there’s enough to “slowly” introduce non-urgent surgery, with meetings held daily to ensure staff have what they need.
He said significant progress was being made in terms of shoring up existing supply channels, and developing new ones.
Prices have soared since the COVID-19 pandemic unleashed panic buying in Australia.
“Just to give you an idea of what’s changed in the market, a surgical mask used to cost us about 70 cents,” Dr Wakefield told ABC radio on Friday.
“Now the going rate for a surgical mask is $7.”
He said the state was working closely with the federal government, which has a national stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE).
And work is progressing to make sure Australia has capacity to make its own.
“For the future, we do not want to depend on other countries for critical resources like PPE.
“I’m very happy to say we’re working with some great companies who are starting to manufacture a range of PPE and announcements about that will be … forthcoming.”