Prices jump up to 400%
Prices of hand sanitizers and face masks have increased up to 400% overnight, following the detection of three persons with corona virus (COVID-19) in the country on Sunday.
Without giving any explanation for the abnormal price hike, the retailers pointed fingers at the wholesalers.
Mohammod Rakib was found selling masks for Tk100 each at Panthapath, which was earlier Tk40-50 apiece until Sunday afternoon.
He said: “Wholesalers hiked the price to Tk150 apiece. So, I could not buy any today because of the high price, and am selling those which were in my stock.”
Another vendor was selling masks for Tk200 apiece ,which also was Tk40-50 a day back.
Hawker Alamgir at Rampura Bazar said: “I bought these from Gulistan Market. They are charging a high price.”
Surgical masks which were earlier Tk5 apiece were found being retailed for more than Tk30-50 apiece on Monday.
Though masks were available at high prices on footpaths, most of the drug store were found to be out of stock of masks.
Dhaka Tribune did not find any mask in any drug store in Rampura, Malibagh, Panthapath, and Shukrabad areas till Monday evening.
The stock of hand sanitizers also ran out after the announcement of detecting coronavirus in three persons in the country.
During visits to some shops and drug stores, 50 ml Savlon, Dettol, and other sanitizers were found selling for more than Tk100-150, instead of Tk80 written on the products. Besides, 200 ml sanitizer which used to be sold for Tk200 was selling for around Tk220-300.
This Dhaka Tribune correspondent bought a 50ml Sepnil sanitizer for Tk100 instead of Tk80 written on it from the Rampura branch of Lazz Pharma.
The branch manager, Mohammod Towhid, said: “All sanitizers are out of stock right now. This is why the price has increased.”
Abid Hasan, pharmacist-in-charge of Lazz Pharma at the Kalabagan branch, said: “We have placed orders for sanitizers and Haxisol. Hope these will come within the night if the company has enough in stock.”
A salesman of Tazrin Pharmacy said the price of a 200 ml sanitizer would be Tk200-300, while price tag showed Tk200.
Shawrna Hasan, a buyer from Dhanmondi, said: “We cannot do anything about coronavirus except remain careful. I did not find one sanitizer even after visiting 20 drug stores and shops. I am not sure whether I will get any.”
Another customer Abir Mahmood from Banasree said: “It is really inhumane and oppressive to hike a product price more than 400%. They take the opportunity of a moment of crisis when people are helpless. The government should take necessary action immediately against these dishonest businessmen.”
Contacted, Fazal Mahmud, senior manager (marketing) of Square Toiletries Lit, said: “Since Sunday evening, the demand has increased more than five times. Our dealers are placing orders continuously. We are trying to manage our products to meet the demand.
“Currently, we have enough raw materials to produce new sanitizers. So, I think there will be no crisis,” he added.
About panicked buying of sanitizer, medicine specialist and prime minister's personal physician Dr ABM Abdullah said it was not mandatory to use it and normal soap was enough to kill coronavirus.
“People’s rush to buy masks and sanitizers is nothing but panic. Increased demand increased the price,” he said.
He advised people to wash hands with soap for 20 seconds before eating and after coming back from outside, and to avoid handshakes.
On Sunday, the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) confirmed that three Bangladeshis tested positive in the country for Covid-19, a new strain of coronavirus that has so far killed over 3,600 people around the world.