Fear of the spreading coronavirus has led to a global run on sales of face masks. People trying to protect themselves from the outbreak and medical centers alike are facing shortages. In South Korea, hundreds lined up to buy masks from a discount store.
Many businesses are sold out, while others are limiting how many a customer can buy
The shortages are being attributed not just to high demand, but to disruptions in supply: An outsize share of the world’s surgical masks are made in China — 50%, by its own estimate. But even factories there that have ramped up production say they are hard-pressed to meet local demand.
Apart from shortages of workers, manufacturers say they are struggling to get enough raw materials to make the masks
The government has taken over manufacturers, and exports have plunged.