With a couple of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus — COVID-19 — surfacing in the country, the prices of face or medical masks have increased by staggering 900% as local pharmacies also run out of what is said to provide some protection from the virus.
While some experts say it provides modest protection against the virus that is new to science, others doubt the effectiveness of such masks for stopping COVID-19 transmission. United States (US) health officials say the virus spreads mostly between people who are in close contact with each other, and from respiratory droplets when an infected person sneezes or coughs.
China is the world’s largest producer of the said masks, with a reported daily capacity of 20 million pieces, but by the estimate of its manufacturers, domestic demand alone is around 50 to 60 million per day. Amid the surge in demand, medical store owners are citing a shortage of the masks as the reason behind the increase in its price from Rs100 for a box to Rs1,000 for the same in markets across Pakistan.
CORONAVIRUS IN PAKISTAN:
First two cases of coronavirus in Pakistan were reported on Wednesday night, one of which was in the provincial capital of the country’s southeastern province of Sindh, and the other in the federal capital.
While details of the case in Islamabad have not yet been made public, the first reported case is that of a 22-year-old man who, according to government sources, reached Pakistan from Iran by air and has a history of travel to Tehran “from where he acquired the virus”.
It was also confirmed by Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Zafar Mirza.
“I can confirm first two cases of coronavirus in Pakistan. Both cases are being taken care of according to clinical standard protocols and both of them are stable. No need to panic, things are under control,” he tweeted.