Chain pharmacy Watsons – owned by Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka-Shing – said on its Facebook page on Wednesday that each of its 230 branches would provide around 20 packs of 50 surgical masks on Thursday, and a quota system would be in place for each customer. More sanitation products will arrive in early February, the post added.

“Please take care of your health. We suggest that you not queue overnight or in the early morning to avoid forming crowds, which will increase health risks,” it read.

The post received more than 10,000 likes.

Some queued overnight for the product despite the warning. At the Jubilant Place housing estate into Kwa Wan, Mrs Yuen said she had waited outside Watsons since 4am on Thursday, according to Apple Daily.

She told the newspaper that she only has a few masks left and had to buy a new pack

Yuen said the Hong Kong government had not done enough to prevent the spread of the virus.

“The government only told residents to not to go outside – should we just wait and die at home? It should have closed the border sooner. Now we don’t know how many people have been infected”

At a Watson’s branch on Jordan Road, several people waited for the shop to open since the early hours. Ms. Leung, a student, began queuing at around 5 am and said that her stock of masks could only last for two more days.

“I haven’t been able to buy [masks]. Mine is designed for children,” she said.

At a branch in Tin Shui Wai, some residents became agitated after all 20 tokens allotted to waiting customers were given out, RTHK reported. They were filmed swearing at staff members and pushing the store shutter.

The atypical form of pneumonia was first detected in Wuhan, China. It bears symptoms similar to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed over 300 people in Hong Kong in 2003.


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