The price of surgical masks skyrocketed in Karachi on Thursday after two cases of coronavirus were confirmed in the country.
According to reports, masks have either disappeared from medical stores in the city or are being sold at exorbitant prices across the metropolis.
A medical store owner told Geo News, a box of ordinary surgical masks that would have ordinarily cost somewhere between Rs300 to 400 is now being sold for more than Rs2,000.
Store owners also say prices of N-95 masks used to protect from coronavirus, despite becoming more expensive is also no longer available in the market.
Despite a ban by the government of Pakistan on the export of masks, nearly 10,000 N-95 masks and more than 3,600 ordinary regular masks were exported to China. Six companies were given special permission to export masks to China, leading to a shortage in the country.
Health officials, on the other hand, have blamed the shortage on hoarders.
Pakistan confirms first two cases of coronavirus
On Wednesday, Pakistan reported its first two cases of coronavirus, Special Assistant to PM on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza confirmed. “I can confirm the first two cases of coronavirus in Pakistan. Both cases are being taken care of according to clinical standard protocols & both of them are stable,” Dr. Mirza wrote on Twitter.
He also noted that there was “no need to panic [as] things are under control”.
The second patient, identified in Islamabad, was shifted to quarantine in the capital’s Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS).
Isolation wards established at Karachi hospitals
Three isolation wards have been established in Karachi’s Civil, Jinnah, and Aga Khan hospitals to treat the patients infected with coronavirus, Radio Pakistan reported.
Sindh Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah in an interview said the Provincial Disaster Management Authority has also been asked to take steps in this regard.
Shah said details of those who traveled with the person who tested positive for coronavirus have been sought so that they could also be screened.
The provincial minister stressed that federal and provincial governments should work together to control the epidemic disease.