The Ministry of Consumer Affairs has announced urgent measures to curb the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak in India as the cases in the country rose to 258 on Saturday. Taking relief measures, the government has slashed the prices of essentials like sanitisers and mask in the country.
With the soaring demand in markets, the government has capped the price of two-ply masks at Rs. 8 and three-ply mask at Rs. 10. Moreover, the retail price of hand sanitisers of a 200 ml bottle is capped at Rs. 100. The urgent pricing measures will stay in force till June 30 this year.
The government had declared face masks and hand sanitisers as an essential commodity owing to its shortage amid the rising fear of the COVID-19. Discouraging the hoarding of medical masks and hand sanitisers amid the pandemic outbreak, the Centre on Friday has stated that stringent action will be taken against those hoarding this essential protective equipment. India has 31 confirmed cases of coronavirus to date. The World Health Organisation is yet to declare COVID-19 a pandemic but has warned of a move in that direction should countries fail to arrest the spread.
Amid the Coronavirus scare in India, the demand for surgical masks has spiked leading to a surge in the prices of the masks up to nearly 300 percent. Not only has this panic led to a surge in the price and demand of surgical masks but it has also affected the prices of N95 masks and sanitizers. Surgical masks that would sell at Rs10 are now allegedly being sold at Rs 40.
The chemists fear a shortage in stock of the said items in a few days as the demand surged massively after the government issued health advisory against the deadly virus. Experts have been advising that those who are healthy should refrain from wearing and hoarding masks since they are more important for those who are infected with the virus so as to arrest the spread of the disease. Masks are also more important for healthcare workers who need to safeguard themselves since they come in contact with patients on a daily basis.
According to the data on March 21 at 11 PM, Maharashtra has 52 cases, including three foreigners, while Kerala has recorded 40 cases, which include seven foreign nationals. Karnataka has 15 coronavirus patients. The number of cases in Ladakh rose to 13 and Jammu and Kashmir four. Telangana has reported 19 cases, which include 11 foreigners. Rajasthan has also reported 17 cases, including that of two foreigners. Gujarat has reported seven cases so far.
Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Uttarakhand have reported three cases each. West Bengal, Odisha, and Punjab each reported two cases while Puducherry, Chhattisgarh, and Chandigarh reported one case each. In Haryana, there are 17 cases, which include 14 foreigners.
(With PTI inputs)