Demand for medical supplies surge as Kiwis rush to stock up amid coronavirus fears

Face masks and hand sanitisers are reaching "sky high" prices on Trade Me as pharmacies and retailers run out across the country. 

People wear masks on a street in Hong Kong to celebrate the Lunar New Year which marks the Year of the Rat in the Chinese zodiac. Source: Associated Press

"High quality" face masks are reaching up to $150 with a buy now of $300 for 10 masks, well above their standard $47.82 price from retailers for the same kind.

According to Trade Me's Head of Marketplace Lisa Stewart, they have seen a surge of Kiwis looking to stock up on face mask and hand sanitiser supplies. 

"In the last seven days, we've seen nearly 73,000 searches for "face mask" which is up 2,400 per cent on the year prior."

She says on Saturday alone they had 13,500 searches for the product, the same day the results of a potential coronavirus case in New Zealand was announced.

"Will these protect me from coronavirus?" wrote one concerned bidder on an auction for a box of 50 masks, now reaching an eye watering price of $87, with over 100 people adding the auction to their watchlist. 

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According to Ms Stewart, searches for hand sanitsier are also up 5,500 percent on last year, with almost 9,000 searches in the last week.

Four small hand sanitisers are listing for over $50 on Trade Me. 

International buyers have also turned to the online auction house for supplies.

One auction, selling 1,000 masks for $600, had bidders from China asking if the masks could be shipped internationally to Hang Zhou. 

Ms Steward says they are expecting to have even more searches for these kinds of items in the next few weeks as the virus continues to spread.