Amid the Coronavirus scare in India and 29 confirmed cases reported, the demand for surgical masks is seeing a massive spike. Chemist shops and pharmacies are grappling to fulfill this escalated demand, 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.
Most of the supply of the masks would come from China, however since their internal demand has soared amidst the outbreak, most chemist shops are relying on leftover stocks or stocks provided by domestic manufacturers.
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. "We have sanitizers and masks currently in ample stock, but their demand has been rising in the past few days so a shortage may arise in the coming days."
"Sanitizers, especially, are being demanded more since the advisory was issued. Currently, though we have ample stock to meet the demand," Vishwajit, a chemist told news agency ANI.
If such a shortage occurs, then the impact on the health workers would be the worst. 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.
While speaking about the Coronavirus situation in the Rajya Sabha, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said, "In our country as on March 4 total of 29 positive cases have been reported so far, of these three cases were reported in Kerala earlier who have since recovered and have been discharged already."
"Since the last three days, travel-related cases have increased in our country. The first one is from Delhi with a travel history to Italy. On from Telanga with travel history from Dubai and contact with a person from Singapore. Both are clinically stable. Six more cases have been tested positive in Agra, Uttar Pradesh with a contact history with the person from Delhi. Rapid Action as per cluster management plan has been initiated," he added.