Amazon reports 400% surge in face mask sales despite doubts over their ability to prevent infection

Amazon has seen medical face mask sales in the UK skyrocket 400 per cent over the past 24 hours as coronavirus fears spread.

Disposable face masks have become the fastest selling item on Amazon’s list of top selling items in its beauty category, jumping to the top of ‘best-seller’ lists across the website.

Relmos-branded face masks have seen sales rise a whopping 846 per cent since yesterday, while packs of 20 dust masks in the DIY category have surged 8930 per cent.

Other retailers like Boots have also seen the sale of face masks increase dramatically, while the National Pharmacy Association reported a “considerable increase” in demand.

READ MORE: Alibaba, JD.com struggling to meet demand for medical supplies amid coronavirus outbreak

Despite the increase in demand, health officials have warned that face masks could be largely ineffective at protecting wearers against the virus.

“Face masks play a very important role in clinical settings, such as hospitals,” head of emerging infections at Public Health England said Dr Jake Dunning explained.

“However, there is very little evidence of widespread benefit from their use outside of these clinical settings. People concerned about the transmission of infectious diseases would do better to prioritise good personal, respiratory and hand hygiene.”

The virus, which is understood to have been originally contracted at an animal meat market in Wuhan, has now spread to around 10,000 people and killed upwards of 200.

More than 100 cases of the coronavirus have also been found outside of China including two in the UK.

Chinese retailers including Alibaba and JD.com are reportedly struggling to deal with the increased demand for face masks and other medical supplies.

Between January 20 and 21 Alibaba’s Taobao is understood to have sold 80 million face masks, while JD.com has run out hand sanitiser and Pinduoduo has sold out of scrubs, gloves and goggles.

Taobao took to social media to inform customers they are “urgently restocking” supplies across the nation.

It also announced on Sunday that it had banned sales of face masks from sellers who have inflated their prices due to skyrocketing demand and stock scarcity.

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