Hoarding begins, prices shoot up of face masks in Baramulla

Baramulla: Just days after cases of coronavirus being reported from across the country, the prices of face masks have shot up or the masks themselves have disappeared from the market. This has become a problem for school going children and their parents, as many schools have warned students that they won’t be let into school if they do not come wearing face masks.
People here in Baramullla say that they are being sold face masks at unreasonable rates, or the chemist shops are simply telling them that the masks are not available. Locals said that face masks usually cost anywhere from Rs 5 to Rs 100 as per their quality, but in recent days the local shops, mostly chemist shops, have either started hoarding the masks or are selling them at rates twice and thrice of the retail price.
A chemist shop owner in Baramulla said that the rates of face masks had been increased by distributors, and most of the retailers had refused to pay the higher rates. “There is a superior N-95 mask which costs 70 to 80 rupees. We were providing it to our customers at a cost of 100 rupees. On Thursday, I talked to a Srinagar-based distributor who informed that its new wholesale cost is 220 rupees. There are many chemist shops that are ready to purchase it, but we have refused to pay such rates,” he said.
He added that distributors had increased the cost of every mask by almost three times.
Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Baramulla Dr Deeba Khan herself confirmed that not only the prices of face masks had increased, there was also a serious shortage of masks in the market.
“Today I went to purchase a few masks in Baramulla but everyone said they are completely out of stock. Not just masks, even sanitisers and medicated tissue papers are out of stock in many places,” Dr Khan said.
She said that a team of officers will be constituted to check the prices and availability of masks from Saturday. “Our team will also inform people about how to protect themselves from the virus. We will not tolerate if anyone is found selling masks at high rates. The health department will take action very soon against those who are hoarding masks to increase their rates,” Dr Khan told Kashmir Reader on Friday afternoon.
Meanwhile, students of different schools and other educational institutions were asked to wear masks by their teachers and warned that they won’t be allowed in if they came without wearing masks. The parents of school going children complained that when there were no masks available in the market, from where will they purchase the masks. They appealed to the administration to take serious steps so that people do not suffer.

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