As COVID takes hold, a shortage of masks, sanitizers

By Neil Cornelius


Chennai: As Corona Virus takes hold, shops are running out of face masks and hand sanitizers as demand far outsrips suppply.

“The novel coronavirus pandemic has created widespread panic among people and has hence driven mask sales through the roof,” said J. By Samuel, a face mask dealer from Tirupur.

( YOU MAY WANT TO MENTION HOW MANY CASES IN CHENNAI AND IN INDIA). And this could get a lot worse. The New York Times reported that the total number of corona cases in India would rise to 500-600 million by July and 10% of these cases may be severe and require intensive medical care. 

With supplies being low in India , dealers like J Samuel had taken to getting supplies from Europe.  But with demand swelling, even this is not proving enough.

“People have finally started buying masks made in China due to this increase in demand. Though the masks from China are much cheaper people were very apprehensive to buy them since they were afraid the virus might stick on to some of the equipment and get to them,” said Samuel. “These fears are unwarranted as the virus can not survive for more than 12 hour without a human host. But demand has finally made them forget their fears,” he added.

Samuel also deals in other medical equipment like ventilators. He says “China is the only country right now that has enough stock of medical equipment to supply globally.” Ventilators which are essential for people who show adverse symptoms of the virus cost 26,000 USD elsewhere while they only cost 10,000 USD when procured from China. “It is expected that the country will have over 100,000,000 cases of corona in the next few months. We have only 1 lakh ventilators in the entire country. We are grossly underprepared,” said Samuel.

Meanwhile health officials say that this sudden shortage is caused by widespread misinformation that has caused hysteria among the people. Dr. Vanaja Thangaraj, Additional Director, Directorate of Public Health Tamil Nadu, says “There is absolutely no need for the public to wear these. If you think you have a cold or fever you need to wear a mask to avoid infecting someone. Everyone rushing to buy masks is only going to make it less accessible to people who actually need it.