SRINAGAR: With the coronavirus scare gripping the world, panicky people in Kashmir valley are knocking on the doors of pharmacists seeking to buy masks to prevent being infected.
Though no positive cases of coronavirus infection have been seen in Jammu and Kashmir, chemists confirmed the surge in sale of masks.
It may be recalled that the guidelines issued by the Jammu Kashmir Health department in its advisories, mention the usage of handkerchiefs to maintain cough hygiene. As per media reports, in Singapore, which has reported three confirmed cases of coronavirus so far, the government has decided to issue four masks to every family.
Imtiyaz Ahmad, retailer of a local pharmacy store in uptown Bemina area of Srinagar, said the sale of masks in his shop has gone up due to the panic surrounding coronavirus. “Not everyone who buys a mask may be using it the right way. People are just buying masks and keeping them. This is panic buying, which was seen earlier during outbreak of swine flu,” he said.
He added that a month ago he was selling not more than 10-20 masks a day, and over the past three or four days, the number has crossed 100-150.
Masks are available from Rs 20 to Rs 100 a piece. Some people complained that the price has doubled for clinical masks. “What was sold at Rs 20 now costs for Rs 50 owing to shortage,” he said.
According to doctors, wearing a mask is only one of the precautions to prevent infections. “Importance should also be given to other preventive aspects like washing hands, keeping distance from an infected person and maintaining cough hygiene,” he said.
The swine flu scare that had gripped Kashmir some five years before had led to brisk sales of masks. However, this time in the case of coronavirus, doctors said the masks offer little protection.
“I have sold 300 masks in 10 days. This week I am planning to order a fresh consignment from outside. This year their demand is pretty higher,” said Peer Amjad, a pharmacist in Batmaloo.
He further said: “Mostly tuition going children, bikers, senior citizens and patients with bronchial and respiratory problems are buying them. With different medical advisories doing rounds on internet, the masks are selling out fast.”
China’s coronavirus outbreak, which began in December 2019, has reportedly now spread to 14 countries. The World Health Organisation (WHO), has also declared it public health emergency.
Doctors had stated that the threat cannot be ruled out in the valley because of tourist inflow in valley and also many of Indian students studying in China and their movement from China to India may bring the infection here. Chances cannot be ruled out that someone has already brought the infection to Indian state Kerala.
As per reports, the first confirmed case of novel coronavirus was found in Thrissur district of Kerala. The patient is a student studying in Wuhan University, China and had recently returned to India.
On Thursday Union Health Ministry confirmed that all 645 Indian evacuees from Wuhan China have tested negative.
As per report, health officials in China declared that 563 people had died from the virus, up from nearly 500 people the day before, and that 28,018 cases had been confirmed. On Monday, the number of confirmed cases was put at 20,438, meaning the number increased more than 35 percent in just a few days.