As virus fear spreads, masks and sanitizers fly off pharma shelves

City Health

Stores unsure when supplies will come back

Aarthi N

Bengaluru, March 05, 2020 

Bengaluru has a shortage of face masks and hand sanitizers as a large number of people have started to buy them after the outbreak of coronavirus.

Eight out of the ten medical stores Newsnet visited on March 5, did not have masks and sanitizers. Salespersons at the stores said these are in high demand and they do not have stocks.

“No masks and no sanitizers,” said Madhu N, working in Apoorva Medicals, Indiranagar, to customers who had come to buy them. There is a sudden demand since March 4.

Shravan L, a salesperson at Sri Ram Pharma, also in Indiranagar said, “The demand for hand sanitizer and face masks is high for the past two days. We do not have stocks of hand sanitizers. We have stock of normal surgical masks, which cost about Rs 30.” Another mask, which can be used for 15 days, is priced at Rs 350.

About tablets that are in demand of late, he said, “Dolo 650, Cheston Cold, Cofsils and Strepsil are the common ones people have been buying since yesterday. A few of them bought handwashes.”

About the reusable N95 mask, Madhu said, “It costs Rs 799. Because the price is high, people do not buy it. Only two customers who enquired about it bought it from us yesterday. All other customers buy the surgical mask, which costs Rs 20.”

People visiting medical stores enquired if they had stocks of masks and hand sanitizers. Sundaram R, who works for an IT company, said, “I enquired at more than three shops. They do not have sanitizers. Suddenly, there’s a high demand everywhere. They are not available in any departmental store either.”

 Medical stores are not sure of when the stocks will be replenished. A salesperson at Maruthi Pharma Plus, Vijayanagar, informed Newsnet, “The demand is high. I guess by now most medical shops will not have them. Everyone who has come here since yesterday has asked us for masks and sanitizers, but we have none. We have no clue when the stocks will be refilled.”

Even agencies that supply to pharmacies are not sure when fresh stocks will come. One such agency, Fyre Masq, said, “We do not have stocks of masks now. We supply masks to various medical shops in the city, but as of now, we do not have stock. We are also unsure of when we will receive stocks.”

Dr Priya Ramachandran, who works at St John’s Hospital, pointed out that WHO guidelines say only people with cough and cold should wear masks. “Everyone needn’t wear masks. But because people are scared, they buy masks. People needn’t fear but take preventive steps prescribed by WHO.”

Another consultant, Dr A.H. Lokesh, said, “It is better to wear a mask for safety. Other than that, people should avoid going to crowded places as there are high chances of cold and cough spreading. N95 is the mask that should be worn, but because it is costly, people prefer to wear the normal ones, which are OK for emergency purposes.”

Two days ago, a 24-year –old software engineer who works in Bengaluru tested positive for Covid-19 in Hyderabad. Seventy-one people who came in contact with this techie in Bengaluru are under watch. He had travelled to Dubai for work on February 15 and returned to Bengaluru on February 20. He attended work on February 20 and 21 before taking a bus to Hyderabad. His apartment in Bengaluru has been sealed for sanitizing.

Companies and business parks in Bengaluru are taking urgent measures to ensure that their premises are clean amid the increasing concern over coronavirus. They have advised employees to work from home.

Schools in the state have been asked by The Associated Management of Primary and Secondary Schools in Karnataka to provide isolation for students if they suddenly fall ill after reaching school, and to alert their parents immediately.


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