DTI order: Sell only two bottles of alcohol, disinfectants per person

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 12) — Amid panic buying over the novel coronavirus pandemic, the government is limiting the purchase of alcohol and other disinfectants to two bottles per consumer.

The Department of Trade and Industry has issued this order to retailers as early as Monday, Undersecretary Ruth Castelo told CNN Philippines Thursday, adding that a written order will be released soon.

She said the DTI met with manufacturers and retailers on Wednesday and "everybody agreed already and we have started implementing yesterday."

Castelo said the DTI will also monitor the retailers to ensure compliance. This will stop people from hoarding and reselling the items at a higher price, Castelo said.

She explained that people can only buy two bottles of each type of disinfectant "regardless of size."

"If you choose the 60 ml, dalawa lang bote. Kung gusto mo yung 500 ml dalawa lang rin ang pwedeng bilihin ng isang tao," she explained.

[Translation: If you choose the 60 ml, you can only buy two bottles. If you want the 500 ml, only two bottles can be bought by each person.]

She further explained that a consumer, for instance, can buy two bottles of alcohol and two bottles of hand sanitizer.

"Pwede naman basta (That can be done for as long as it is) limited to two items per bottle," she said.

She said they made the order simpler to avoid confusion in groceries and supermarkets.

Some stores have been running out of disinfectants following confirmed cases of local transmission of the coronavirus disease or COVID-19. The Philippines now has a total of 49 confirmed cases, including two deaths.

The DTI has also ordered a 60-day price freeze on all basic necessities, in response to the declaration of a state of public health emergency in the country.

Worldwide, COVID-19 has killed more than 4,600 people, mostly in China, since the outbreak began in Wuhan City in December last year. Over 126,000 people have been infected according to the Johns Hopkins University's COVID-19 global tracker.

The World Health Organization now considers COVID-19 a pandemic.

According to the WHO the most commonly reported symptoms are fever, dry cough and shortness of breath. WHO said 8 in 10, or around 80 percent, of infected patients experience "mild illness" and eventually recover from COVID-19. Some 14 percent experience severe illness while 5 percent were critically ill, the WHO said.

To prevent infection, authorities are urging people to practice regular hand washing, cover the mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and avoid close contact with those who show respiratory symptoms.