Prices of different types of face masks in Bangladesh have picked up mainly due to higher demand in the wake of recent Coronavirus outbreak in several countries.
Physicians have suggested wearing surgical masks in right manner so that those can protect from airborne diseases and dust.
During a visit to several areas of the city, it was seen that the sale of different types of surgical face masks has raised and the price of these supportive materials has also hiked significantly in the last few days.
Naimul Islam, a salesperson at a surgical store in the city's Topkhana Road, told the FE: "Last two days the sale of such masks has increased. Today (Wednesday) we sold 12 to 15 boxes (50 to 100 pieces in a box) of face masks whereas we hardly sold three to five boxes even two days ago."
Admitting the price hike, he mentioned, "We sold a box (50 pieces) at Tk 60 on Monday which is now being sold at Tk 120 to 150. Supply has also cut due to increasing demand. We now have to collect these masks at extra charge."
He claimed the wholesale supply from China has cut in the backdrop of the higher demands. They now have to procure a box of 50 pieces of masks for Tk 100, he added.
Taking the advantage of higher demands, some traders are asking arbitrary prices, alleged consumers.
Md Ibrahim, a wholesale trader at the city's Topkhana Road-a wholesale market for surgical items-told the FE that some retailers have started stocking masks with an ill-motive to sale those at higher price as demand rises.
Md Shofiqul Islam, who went to buy a surgical mask, told the FE that one storekeeper asked him TK 50 for a filter mask which was Tk 25 last week. He expressed his anger against the greedy traders adding there was nobody to monitor the market.
He, however, urged the authorities concerned to take punitive action immediately.
Principal Scientific Officer at the Department of Medical Entomology, Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) Dr ASM Alamgir told the FE that there is no need to be panicked as there is no case of Conoravirus detected yet in Bangladesh.
He emphasised preventive measures so that people remain safe from airborne and other contagious diseases.
Dr Alamgir, however, stressed proper manner of wearing a mask as effectiveness depends on it largely.
The size of Conoravirus is 135 nano, which can be protected by the use of quality face mask, especially surgical ones, he mentioned.
Usually, such masks cannot protect viruses, sizes less than 120 nano, he said adding that special types of masks are needed for those viruses.
He, however, suggested these masks for onetime use only.
The IEDCR official denied making any comment on the price hike and suggested asking officials related to market monitoring.
The outbreak has killed 132 people in China and infected close to 6,000.
There are at least 47 cases confirmed in 16 other countries, including Thailand, France, the US and Australia. No deaths have been reported outside China.
Government till Wednesday screened 3,348 passengers at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) arriving from China and found none infected by Coronavirus, according to the IEDCR official.
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