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On the frontline: A pharmacy during COVID-19

Julien Behal/PA

On the frontline: A pharmacy during COVID-19

Pharmacist Jen Moncur on how coronavirus has impacted on her work

What effect did coronavirus have on the pharmacy?
When it first broke it was incredible, we basically saw a 100 per cent increase on what we usually did, for about a fortnight. Everyone who had been prescribed a medication came and ordered it, so instead of it happening over a three or four month period it all happened in two weeks. Hand sanitiser and toilet roll also sold out. At the moment I have been working six days a week and only taking a day off when the shop is closed.

What has the mood been like?
When it was first happening people were terrified and one of the hardest things was getting asked questions we didn’t have the answers to. It’s really hard to keep up with the different papers people come in with or to know what to research and what you might get asked. For a few weeks I was doing a lot of research to check what to say to people and you never know if it’s going to be relevant or even asked. We had to reassure people constantly.

What changes have you made in the shop?
We limit how many people come into the shop to two, we have screens up and we have visors to wear, to protect from each other more than anyone else, because we work close to each other and we pick up the same things. It’s strange because the customers aren’t the scary thing at the moment, it’s working with each other.

What are the other challenges?
One of the difficulties is working in a small team, because the biggest worry for us is that someone gets ill and then we need a contingency plan. If I got symptoms then technically we should all be off for two weeks, but how would that work?

It’s difficult working with the media. There’s the constant fear of catching the virus, and then knowing you are going to go in to work and touch things other people are touching, and if they aren’t taking precautions that can be scary. The fear comes in peaks and troughs, and sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming, especially depending on what everyone’s been reading the day before. But it is better now than it was around two or three weeks ago - I guess it is the same with anything, if you live with it for a while it just becomes your norm.

Have customers been grateful?
They’ve been really nice and I do like it when they bring me presents - sweeties and things. It’s a small community and we do care about the customers - we know them on a first name basis - we have been kept well stocked in gifts...

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