Rise in demand of masks is concerning, say shopkeepers

- April 21, 2023
| By : Rohan Chauhan |

Wearing of masks in public places, schools, and restaurants has been made mandatory in Noida, while AIIMS, Delhi has asked physicians to wear PPE kits when evaluating patients

MASK ON: Sale of masks has increased over the past few days

While the horrors of the lethal Covid epidemic are still fresh in many people’s minds, Covid cases are on the rise in the Capital once again. To avoid potentially devastating scenarios like the epidemic, Delhi residents must be watchful and cautious.

In the last week, there have been 24 deaths in Delhi as a result of Covid. Following Sunday’s results, the national capital’s seven-day count of illnesses grew to 8,599, the second highest number reported in the country. 

With 18,623 new cases reported during the week of April 9-15, Kerala topped the list of states. The death toll also surpassed 100 for the week of April 9-15, with 113 deaths, a 70% rise from the previous week’s death toll of 67.

Several initiatives have been undertaken to combat the rising number of Covid cases. Wearing of masks in public places, schools, and restaurants has been made mandatory in Noida, while AIIMS, Delhi has asked physicians to wear PPE kits when evaluating patients, and a special support desk has been set up for patients who have been sick with the flu for a lengthy period of time. 

In Kerala, pregnant women, children, and the elderly are urged to wear masks when going outside, but in Haryana, every gathering of more than 100 individuals is mandated to wear masks.

Masks and hand sanitisers have also seen a significant increase in sales in recent weeks. Patriot travelled to Chandni Chowk’s medical hub, the Bhagirath Palace Market, to speak with vendors about how they’re dealing with the issue.

“The sales of masks and hand sanitisers and disinfectants have increased significantly in the last two weeks,” says Gobind Das, owner of a pharmaceutical shop in Chandni Chowk. 

“We’re practically out of stock; the N-95 masks are selling quickly, albeit the difference this time is that we’re getting sales from large corporations and offices, particularly sanitisers, which wasn’t the case previously.

PREPARING: Healthcare workers during a recent mock drill to check Covid-19 preparedness amid
rising cases of coronavirus, at RML Hospital. (Photo: Getty)

“Most individuals would rather buy pocket sanitisers than large ones. Popular liquid hand wash products have shown a consistent growth in demand. Despite having ample supply, we have placed orders due to the high demand for sanitisers, masks, and liquid hand wash,” says Das.

“We sold over 1,500 masks in the previous week, with approximately 800 sold in wholesale orders. Rest were sold in individual capacities as the number of individuals served by Chandni Chowk on any given day is enormous, which helped us. We also offer a big number of use and throw and disposable masks which are preferred by the majority as it only costs 10 to 15 rupees. 

The situation, on the other hand, is concerning, according to Das, who adds that “we don’t want the situation to deteriorate more because it’s been really difficult for us to re-establish our business”.

The spike in sale of masks, hand sanitisers, and immunity boosters was unexpected, according to Kamal Kishore Khanna, who has managed a pharmaceuticals business in Chandni Chowk for the last 61 years.

Many people come here for medications and other essentials, but sales of masks and sanitisers have increased significantly in the previous two weeks. 

Self-test kits ranging from Rs 150 to 500 have been selling quite rapidly as well, adds Khanna, and based on the current trend and availability, they could go out of stock very quickly.

The store owners are already experiencing panic purchasing. 

“People have been requesting face masks, hand sanitisers, and cleaning wipes over the last few days, but we’re not sure how long they’ll last. We’ve stored up while keeping the situation in mind,” says Khanna. 

When asked if prices have changed due to increased demand, Khanna responds, “Right now, the prices are normal. We’re selling the N-95 masks for Rs 40 in bulk orders, but if the situation worsens and there’s any shortage in the near future, the prices can rise up to Rs 60.” 

The price of surgical masks may also double. There was a drop in sales of these products after the third wave but now it has begun, all over. 

“We are planning to order more products in order to keep ourselves packed with Covid essentials,” says Khanna.

When asked about the current circumstances, the customers at Khanna’s business did not appear to be very concerned. 

Mukesh Jindal, 46, said there’s nothing to worry about because it’s only a phase that will pass, just like it did in July last year. At this time of the year, the number of health difficulties increase due to the weather, and while Covid statistics are on the rise, the situation is under control. The vast bulk of the population has been immunised. If things go wrong, the feeling of alertness fostered in everyone in these circumstances over the previous two years will come in handy.

However, the story is not the same for some manufacturers out there says Bhanu, owner of Hindsight Face Masks.

“There’s been a minimal sale in light of the rising cases, around 10% to 15% in the last month. The reason being alternate options available to people, and most of the people are in the habit of buying cheap homemade masks and using handkerchiefs and towels as masks which has hampered our business,” he says. 

“Most of our orders right now are for big organisations where the sale has been decent enough.”

Talking about the numbers, Bhanu adds that they’ve two big orders in the last few months which is just not enough.

“We’ve manufactured around 6,000-7,000 masks in the last two months.”

The medical institutions in Delhi have also made it mandatory for both patients and visitors to wear masks. 

Patriot visited St Stephen’s Hospital, where an official who did not want to be named, told Patriot, “The situation is critical. We’re dealing with around 15 cases of Covid every day, and the people visiting alongside them are also at risk because of which we’ve made it compulsory to wear masks and have also stationed hand sanitisers throughout the hospital.”