Noida: Amid a coronavirus scare in Delhi-NCR, the demand for surgical and N95 masks increased manifold in Noida on Tuesday with some people claiming they were being sold at rates much higher than the actual cost.
People claimed surgical masks which usually sell for Rs 10 were being sold for Rs 40 or higher, and N95 masks which sell for around Rs 150 were being sold for up to Rs 500.
"They had run out of the recommended N95 masks so I had to buy the surgical mask," Prince Tyagi, a senior manager at a private firm in Sector 62, said.
People also complained about shortage of hand sanitising gel in the market.
Gautam Buddh Nagar Chemists Association President Anoop Khanna said the demand shot up around 10 am after news of suspected coronavirus cases in Noida started doing rounds on news and social media.
"If a pharmacy sold 10-15 masks daily on an average, today the demand went up to 100. Several retailers went out of stock in Noida and Greater Noida, while wholesalers too had a tough time meeting the demand," Khanna told PTI.
He said there was a huge demand, especially for N95 masks, recommended by healthcare experts for prevention against viruses.
He added the demand for masks and panic among people due to the novel coronavirus is more than what was witnessed during peak air pollution around Diwali.
"I haven't seen such panic and demand for masks in my 40 years in this industry," Khanna added.
Sushil Jain, president of Noida's Sector 18 market, said he got to know of several pharmacies selling masks at rates higher than the MRP, and suggested government's interference to regulate the prices in a situation like this.
"The is the simple principle of demand and supply. And in situations like these when panic binds people the tendency of hoarding also goes up. Thus happens at every level, customers, retailers, wholesalers," Jain said.
"The government should have a system wherein the prices and supply of essential products in a situation like this could be controlled," he added.
Sanjay Gupta, who has two pharmacies in Sector 27 and Sector 37, said people kept visiting his shops all throughout the day leading to shortage of both masks as well as hand sanitizers.
"Till yesterday I was selling an average 12-13 masks, but today I have sold around 200. All stocks cleared and there is a shortage now. Same is with hand sanitizers, we have run out of supply and so have several other pharmacies," Gupta said.
Two private schools in Noida were shut on Tuesday after the father of one of their students tested positive for the new coronavirus, while several people, including his family members, were quarantined.
The district health department sent samples of six people including three children and three adults for coronavirus test. Reports were awaited.