Video: Coronavirus fears in Richmond sparks massive line-up for pharmacy face masks

With news spreading fast of a coronavirus case being confirmed in B.C, a massive line-up formed this afternoon for face masks outside a Richmond pharmacy.

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The line-up from the ChemMart Pharmacy on Ackroyd Road, opposite PriceSmart and next door to the Richmond News' office, was almost 100-deep and stretched about 80 yards.

When asked by the Richmond News why they were lining up, they said they were there to pick up more face masks.

One woman, who was already wearing a mask, said she was there to stock up for future use. While another said she had been lining up for more than half an hour, after being told at PriceSmart across the road that they had no masks left.

The pharmacy told the News last week that it had sold out of face masks due to the continuing spread of the deadly novel coronavirus, which started in Wuhan, China about two weeks ago and has killed more than 100 people.

Health experts in B.C. have generally dismissed the effectiveness of such masks, saying that the ones most people are wearing will only stop sick people spreading infection, not the other way around.

The News reported this morning how a man in his 40s from, who arrived at Vancouver Airport last week from China, had been confirmed as the first coronavirus case confirmed in B.C.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, made the announcement Tuesday morning at a press conference, but refused to divulge what city the man lives in.

Henry would only confirm he lives in the Vancouver Coastal Health region - which includes Richmond, Vancouver, North Shore and the Sea to Sky area up to Bella Coola. – and he had visited Wuhan, China, where the potentially deadly virus originated a couple of weeks ago.

The News has asked the B.C. Ministry of Health to further explain why the man’s city of residence is not being given.

The man’s first test was "presumptive positive" said Henry, with a second test being done later in Winnipeg.

Henry, however, said health authorities were “confident” it was the novel coronavirus that’s spreading across China.

As of Wednesday morning, the virus had infected more than 6,000 people and caused 132 deaths in China. The Chinese government has cut off access to Wuhan and 16 other cities.

Three people have been sickened in Canada — two in Toronto and one in British Columbia.

Health officials said the man, a Canadian resident, arrived via Vancouver Airport last week, but did not show any symptoms until at least 24 hours after his arrival.

Henry said the man does not require hospitalization and is being monitored, in isolation, at his home.

“He went home and took all the necessary precautions, put himself in isolation and called it in,” said Henry.

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