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Coronavirus outbreak: As panic grips, chemist shops face shortage of hand sanitizers, face masks across the country

As Coronavirus fear spreads, people resort to panic-buying masks and hand sanitizers.

As reports of coronavirus cases being reported from several parts of India, people are rushing to medical stores to buy protective masks, hand sanitizers. However, they have been hit by a massive shortage.

Reportedly, not just surgical masks but demand for hand sanitisers have also skyrocketed since the outbreak of the deadly virus. As the demand for protective masks and sanitizers in India have gone up significantly, the price of masks has shot up multiple times.

Chemist shops in several localities have run out of stock. The manufacturers have not been able to replace the stock as demand suddenly spiked in the past couple of days. Some chemist shops who have stocks available for masks have also jacked up prices, selling them at the double the origin price.

Incidentally, even e-commerce websites have either run out of these two products or have increased the rates of hand sanitizers and masks. The shortage is largely due to supply disruptions in China coupled with a large amount of buying from the Middle East and China.

“There was steady demand of hand sanitizers and masks in the past two months since the outbreak of coronavirus but ever since a case was reported in Delhi, there has been a sudden spike in demand,” a salesperson said.

Another salesperson added, “We are not getting supplies of those brands and we are running out of stock of what we have, as demand has been huge in the last two days.”

The rise in demand is also seen across the world with the rapid spread of the virus across 60 countries, leading to panic buying and acute shortage. There has been an increase in places like the UK, which saw almost 260 per cent increase in hand sanitiser sales, it was up by around 73 per cent in the US.

According to reports, there are 28 confirmed cases of coronavirus in India so far. The Indian government has said it is monitoring the situation and has taken precautions, including an increase in screenings.

Read: Gurugram Paytm employee tested positive with novel coronavirus after returning from Italy

Coronavirus is a deadly respiratory which has killed more than 3,110 and so far 90,893 cases are reported globally, according to the World Health Organisation.

The transmission of the virus takes place when someone who is infected comes in contact with another person. According to medical experts, coughing, sneezing or even shaking hands with an infected person can cause exposure.

The outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was first reported from Wuhan, China, on 31 December 2019. In the past 24 hours, 129 new cases have been reported in China. This is the lowest number of new cases it reported since January 20.

Outside China, 1848 cases were reported in 48 countries. 80 per cent of those cases are from just three countries: the Republic of Korea, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Italy.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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