Sales of air purifiers surge in recent weeks amid Covid-19 airborne transmission concerns

The demand for air purifiers is not new, though there has been renewed interest in such products since the Covid-19 outbreak. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - Retailers have seen a spike in the sales of air purifiers in recent weeks, amid concerns that Covid-19 may spread through airborne transmission in some settings.

Some have seen their sales more than double, compared with a few weeks ago.

Recently, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United States' Centre for Disease Control and Prevention accepted that the coronavirus can spread through the air, in addition to other modes of transmission, such as via droplets.

Mr Kenny Teo, managing director of consumer electronics retailer Gain City, said it has seen a 105 per cent increase in sales from May 14 to last Wednesday (June 2), compared with just two weeks earlier, with strong sales from its website.

He said: "Demand for air purifiers had been on an upward trend since the onset of Covid-19. However, WHO's recent admission that coronavirus is airborne has brought about a surge in sales of air purifiers."

At supermarket chain Giant, sales have almost doubled over the past three weeks, while online retailer Lazada said it saw sales increase by 1½ times between May 24 and 28, compared with between May 10 and 14.

The demand for air purifiers is not new, though there has been renewed interest in such products since the Covid-19 outbreak.

Local brand Novita said it has seen a 20 to 30 per cent increase in sales of its air purifiers in the past one to two months.

"Customers are buying air purifiers to improve their indoor air quality, as the majority are spending long hours at home now," said its spokesman, adding that many want the extra protection for vulnerable people at home.

The price of air purifiers here usually starts from about $200 and can rise to more than $1,000.

Most come with a high-efficiency particulate air (Hepa) filter or a carbon filter, but add-ons, such as ionisers, ultraviolet lights or even timers can push up the price, which also depends on the amount of space the air purifier can cover. The more expensive ones can cover a three-room flat or larger.

Mr Charles Choi, 27, said he bought an air purifier on May 20 for $169 at a discount. The engineer, who lives with his wife, said he did not regret the purchase.

He said: "Though my wife and I are still young, I do not want to take chances with the variant Covid-19 strains in the community.

"We turn on the air-conditioner four to five times every month when the temperature in the evening gets too warm. In enclosed spaces, the air purifier can still be effective."

Additional reporting by Cha Hae Won

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