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Doctors don't know when masks are coming, despite deliveries arriving in Canada

Last Updated Apr 17, 2020 at 3:34 pm EST

In this Thursday, April 16, 2020 photo, a view of masks and goggles, part of PPE, personal protective equipment, to avoid being infected or transmitting coronavirus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Jon Super

OTTAWA — Some primary-care doctors say they still have no certainty when they will get much-needed protective equipment to protect them from COVID-19 and they are starting to run critically low on supplies.

Surgical masks and disposable N95 respirators are in highest demand, but doctors who are typically responsible for ordering their own protective equipment say suppliers are bereft of stock.

While the federal and provincial governments have announced plans to acquire more supplies, several doctors say they have no idea when they’ll actually get their hands on them, or how they’ll be allocated.

Without adequate supply, they say they will have to close their clinics, leaving patients needing in-person care to go to emergency rooms or do without.

Ontario Medical Association president Dr. Sohail Gandhi says it can be especially upsetting when doctors see medical-grade masks on members of the public picking up groceries.

The government says it has received shipments of 17 million surgical masks so far and expects a total of two million N95 respirators will be delivered to provinces by the end of the week.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 17, 2020.

The Canadian Press