Hospitals across the country are starting to lock up their gloves, masks and sanitizer, in an effort to stop people from stealing them. Medical facilities across Canada have confirmed that they're locking down their gear due to personal protective equipment (PPE) thefts. Supplies have become so tight that some frontline health care workers have had to start reusing their masks.

According to a CBC News investigation, health officials in four different provinces have confirmed that they've seen supplies vanish from storage over the past few weeks, which has forced them to start locking it up.

It’s possible that the missing equipment is being taken for use in health care settings, but it may also have been stolen to be shared with family and friends, or sold on the black market, reports CBC.

While it's unclear exactly where these supplies are going or who they're going to, it's affecting front-line workers in Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan.

The shortage has become so severe that staff are sometimes required to reuse their masks.

"They came in today and told us at the end of our shift to put our masks in a bag with our name on it to use again the next day," a nurse from Guelph General Hospital in Ontario explained.

"I won't do it. It's ridiculous: makes me feel very unsafe and vulnerable," she added.

Another doctor told CBC that people at her hospital have also been stealing supplies.

"You can't have your masks on display because people can just take them," she said.

"Then they were putting them in a back room and people would just walk in and take them. So they have to be under lock and key now."

To help with the demand, donations of PPE have been made to hospitals across Canada.  

In Ontario, a large team of University students is creating face shields for front line workers using a 3D printer.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is also helping out in Vaughan by personally collecting and delivering N95 masks.

After being criticized for pricing PPE at high costs, Canadian Tire is now donating all of its remaining supply of N95 and ASTM-certified face masks, along with gloves and hand sanitizer.

It has already donated about 160,000 masks, 164,000 pairs of gloves and 20,000 litres of hand sanitizers to health care centres and community organizations in the country. 

As cases across the country continue to rise, the need for PPE cannot be stressed enough.

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