If you see Ottawa police wearing gas masks in the coming days, don’t be too alarmed. Thanks to a global shortage of standard respirator face masks, the local police have been forced to get creative when it comes to protecting themselves from COVID-19. Instead, they’ll wear force-issued gas masks on the job.

According to the Ottawa Citizen, the public isn’t alone in its struggle to get its hands on basic supplies.

As novel coronavirus continues to spread internationally, a global shortage of N95 respirator masks has forced Ottawa police to consider gas masks as their new COVID-19 protection.

The city's deputy chief explained that, for the time being, officers who are responding to calls related to the virus will wear their force-issued gas masks. 

“Our frontline members will use those gas masks when they need to in a certain circumstance,” said Deputy Chief Bell told CTV News.

Bell went on to say that this doesn't mean Ottawa Police will be "driving around all the time donning their gas masks."

Instead, they will be saved for specific situations in which the health of the officers would need to be considered.

While there’s no reason to be alarmed, Bell warned the public that it may be an unusual sight.

“We’re really conscious of the image that that presents in our community, and we’re conscious that that’ll create some concern within our community.”

“As this is a pandemic that’s grown around the world, what we’ve seen is a compromised stockpile of N95 masks. The demand for them is outstripping the supply that exists,” Bell explained on Wednesday.

This is a trend that is being seen across the country, as stocks of basic supplies continue to run low.

Ottawa Public Health has been forced to speak out on several occasions about stockpiling, urging locals to avoid bulk-buying products like medication and toilet paper.

This comes as Ottawa’s first diagnosed case of novel coronavirus was confirmed on Wednesday. The man is in his 40s and is currently self-isolating at home.

On the same day, the World Health Organization officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic

You can keep up-to-date with all of the city’s latest advice and information regarding the virus by clicking here.

*This article's cover image is for illustrative purposes only.

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