Facemasks pick up demand, go costlier

When all other business is down, the demand for protective facemasks has witnessed sharp increase in the Valley with people taking every effective measure to insulate themselves from coronavirus.

However, the buyers complained that while the price of facemasks has increased, the quality of the product has declined.

“A simple facemask that would just cost Rs 10 to a customer, is now sold at Rs 40,” exclaimed Bashir Ahmad, an SMC employee who had purchased four facemasks for his family.

Experts rate N95 as the “best” mask which according to them can filter 95% of airborne particles. “But its price has gone up as high as Rs 500 from the earlier Rs 150,” they said.

Junaid Bhat, owner 24×7 Pharmacy here said they were right now running out of N95 facemasks.  “We used to buy a normal facemask for Rs 4, but now due to demand it costs us Rs 18 and we sell it at Rs 20 to public.”

Nusrat Bashir, MSW researcher suggests that government should “control the situation” and devise proper system for price control.

Pertinently, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention had initially suggested “homemade masks like bandanas or scarves as the last resort if masks are not available”.

“N95 is an approved mask for corona but it is actually for the infected patients or the suspected cases. People who have cold and cough symptoms can also use it. This mask is essential for medical staff as they treat positive and suspected cases on regular basis,” said Dr Abdul Rashid Itoo, physician and senior consultant. He said people who are not infected should use simple masks.