Hand sanitiser selling out across island
As a hand sanitiser shortage sweeps the island due to Covid-19 fears, a promise by Government to source the product has puzzled at least one distributor.
“I don't know where the Government is going to get it from,” said the distributor, who did not wish to be named. “There are not many US distributors who have it in stock. They don't even have any masks in stock.”
She said there was definitely a shortage of the product on the island.
“Some people can't refill their machines with the sanitiser,” she said. “At the moment, I don't have the refills. We are all waiting for the product.”
According to a recent article on the Time magazine website, hand sanitiser sales in the United States are up 73 per cent in the last month.
Karen Oatley, sales and marketing manager for health and beauty at Bermuda General Agency said they are finding that a lot of vendors can't confirm orders of hand sanitiser.
“We have been notified by our brand, GermX, that our next shipment of hand sanitiser may be cut,” she said. “We don't know by how much. We had increased our orders based on demand.”
Meanwhile, popular local Facebook site Maj's List was full of unconfirmed sightings of small bottles of hand sanitiser.
However, Drew McKay, chief executive officer at Gorham's, doesn't believe there is any hand sanitiser left on store shelves in Bermuda.
“Everyone is trying to find it,” he said. “We have a steady flow of customers coming in looking for it.”
Mr McKay said Gorham's was trying to source the product.
“There are a lot of delays in the US at the moment,” he said. “We are trying to circumvent those delays and find alternates.”
He said they did have hand wipes in stock. In fact, they have a 20 per cent discount promo on sanitising products such as paper towels, hand wipes and toilet paper.
One disappointed Gorham's customer was fitness instructor Karen Daly.
“I was at Gorham's today and I thought I might as well get some hand sanitiser,” she said. “They didn't have any and there was no information about when the next shipment was coming in. It is very disturbing.”
She particularly needs the product because she leads fitness classes for senior citizens at the Lifelong Learning Centre at the Bermuda College.
“I have 60, 70 and 80-year-olds in my class,” she said. “I wanted to tell them where to source the product or provide it. I went to the lady in the store and she said ‘no masks!' Not that I was asking.”
The shortage was leaving some people to make their own hand sanitiser.
LaVonne Hodsoll who works in a private lab in Bermuda said she makes her own hand sanitiser all the time.
“Working in the lab we are always looking for ways to protect ourselves and to keep a sterile environment,” Ms Hodsoll said. “So it's easy to just use what we have on hand rather than spending money. You can get the cheap aloe vera gel from the Dollar Store, and 70 per cent alcohol. It works. Just using plain alcohol will work but will dry out your hands.”
According to a notice released by the Government yesterday, once they source the product and get it to the island, it will be available at government offices and will be distributed throughout the community, starting with at-risk segments of the population such as seniors.
Additionally, the Government will waive customs duty on hand sanitiser, protective masks and other supplies as the Department of Health deem necessary, in the fight against influenza and Covid-19.
Genelle John, who makes natural soaps and beauty products through her company Salt Spray Soap in St George's, is against using hand sanitiser in response to Covid-19.
“Hand sanitiser kills some germs while the act of washing with soap, not only kills germs, but it also carries them away through proper soaping and rinsing,” she said. “Soap lifts the germs and dirt and works with water to remove it from our bodies. Not only should hand sanitiser be a last resort, but one should then wash their hands with soap at the earliest opportunity.
“This is always the recommendation, but especially now when we are at heightened alert to quell the spread of the coronavirus. With repeated washing, please moisturise to prevent possible cracking and bleeding hands. We have a thick body butter with shea butter in it and our made-in-Bermuda soap is also formulated specifically to clean without drying out the skin.”
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention backed her statements.
According to the CDC website, alcohol-based hand sanitisers can quickly reduce the number of microbes on hands in some situations, but sanitisers do not eliminate all types of germs.
They also may be less effective when your hands are greasy or particularly dirty, making soap the better option.
The agency recommends first washing hands with warm or cold water and then lathering soap for 20 seconds to get it on the backs of hands, between fingers and under finger nails before rinsing off.
• For more information see: www.cdc.gov/handwashing/show-me-the-science-hand-sanitizer.html