Pharmacies will remain open, but visits by the public will be managed with the introduction of measures in the next few days to protect against the spread of coronavirus, the president of the Pharmacists Association Eleni Piera told the Cyprus News Agency on Friday.
But she stressed that pharmacies will remain open through the crisis to support the public.
Instructions will be given regarding visits, she added.
“It is self-evident that in the event the epidemic takes on dimensions in Cyprus as well, visits to pharmacies must be controlled to avoid transmission of the virus among those infected as well as to those working there,” she said.
But the pharmacies will remain open even if the epidemic climaxes. “Already in Italy shops have closed except for pharmacies. Pharmacists carry out a vocation and this is how they will operate. But some restrictions will be introduced to protect the pharmacist and the public,” she noted.
For example, Greece has introduced rules so that only a few people enter a pharmacy at a time for those remaining open off duty hours, they must maintain at least two steps distance from the others, avoid crowding, not make unnecessary visits and not linger. If they cough or sneeze, they must protect the mouth and nose and sanitise the hands,” she added.
Pharmacies disinfect surfaces at regular intervals to protect visitors and people working there.
The measures are expected to be introduced in th next few days after a teleconference during which pharmacists will be informed about the guidance issued by the World Federation of Pharmacists and the Union of European Pharamacists.
Posters will be put up with information to the public regarding symptoms of coronavirus.
Shortage in masks, antiseptics
Piera said there has been increased demand in masks, antiseptics for the hands and antiviral medicine. There is also increased demand for pharmaceuticals for chronic conditions as patients want to stock up. There is also demand for vitamins.
“This is not irrational given the situation. What is irrational is the quantities people are asking for. Because of the panic they are making excessive purchases and this is something that the pharmacists must manage,” she said.
There is currently a shortage in masks and antiseptics, with some small quantities arriving each week, but these are not enough to cover even one tenth of the orders pharmacies have placed.
She urged prudence in buying and using masks so as to ensure availability for those who really need them — patients and those who come into contact with them.
She would not comment on whether a shortage of pharmaceuticals was anticipated, saying this was a question that needed to be answered by the pharmaceutical companies and stressing the need for proper management.