With anxiety running high over COVID-19 outbreak, Tiruchi residents are stocking up on face masks and hand sanitisers, causing a shortage across the city. People are rushing to medical stores to get their hands on either N95 or surgical face masks, and hand sanitisers but many have been disappointed by the shortage. Complaints of masks and sanitisers being sold at inflated prices at some outlets also abound.
N. Suresh, a resident of Thillai Nagar purchased 10 surgical masks, gloves and two hand sanitizers from a franchise medical store in Thillai Nagar on Sunday morning. The store has 100 face masks left, which it had received on Saturday night. The shop owner said that a restock would take at least a month. “My friends abroad say that all the commodities for basic needs will run dry soon. We are all afraid and are taking active measures. The prices have been jacked up by some online retailers too.
The demand is only going to increase,” Mr. Suresh said. At the medical stores outside the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Government Hospital too, the stock has run dry. “The sales of masks rose after patients began to be admitted at the isolation ward at the GH. Our masks were sold out five days ago and we are not able to procure any more,” said a salesperson. “We have shipped the country’s stock overseas and are now facing severe shortage ourselves,” he said and claimed that the prices of masks have become dearer as the material is mainly imported from China. A single-use surgical mask which usually costs Rs.5 is now being sold at Rs. 20. An N95 mask, usually sold at Rs.500 is being sold at over Rs.750. The Jan Aushadhi (Makkal Marundhakam) stores set up under the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) too has run out of face masks. “Our last face masks were sold out two days ago.
However, it has become an essential commodity now, which means that the government will take active steps to increase production,” he said.
(source : The Hindu)