Jigme Choden & Sonam Pem Tshoki

With wearing protective face mask recommended as one of the measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, pharmacies in the capital city are running out of masks.

Kuenphen Pharmacy on Norzin Lam sold out all its “surgical” masks. They are calling up their suppliers in India to send them another batch of surgical masks and hand sanitisers worth Nu 400,000.

Proprietor of the pharmacy, Jharna Rai, said they have sold around two cases of surgical masks in the last two days. “We got orders for 10 cases of surgical marks.”

She also said that people are not only purchasing for themselves but also exporting to places like China, Hong Kong and Australia which has caused a drastic increase in the sale of surgical mask and hand sanitisers in the past few days.

The pharmacy is expecting their new stock of surgical masks and hand sanitisers before Sunday.

Other pharmacies are also experiencing a drastic increase in the sale of the preventive gears.

Pharmacist of Namsey Pharmacy, Choden, 26, said, “The demand for surgical masks and hand sanitisers is high right now. We have sold around three cases (containing about 50 to 100 masks) of surgical mask and more than hundred bottles of hand sanitisers as of this week.”

She said that people are buying more surgical masks comparing to the cloth masks.

Pema Tshering, 21, a resident of Thimphu said that on Tuesday, he bought a packet of surgical mask for himself and his cousins. The packet had 10 pieces inside.

With the growing need of these gears for preventive measures, China has criminalised hoarding of face masks.

According to Japan Today, an English daily, Chinese people living in Japan bought 10 to 20 boxes of masks at once.

With huge demand for face masks, pharmacies and drug stores are being fined for hiking the price of the now essential item.

According to Reuters, news agency, a drug store in China was fined Singaporean dollar 590,000 for hiking the price of face mask by almost six times the online price amid the coronavirus outbreak.