Face mask and hand sanitizers have become hot commodities especially in Nigeria’s commercial city of Lagos. The mega-city this week recorded sub-Saharan Africa’s first case of the raging COVID-19 infection known popularly as coronavirus.
An Italian who arrived in the country aboard a Turkish Airlines flight was the patient who has since been quarantined as officials work to trace all possible contacts.
The privately-owned Cable newspaper reported that multiple pharmacies in Lagos had hiked the prices of the commodities or reported having run out of stock. Many people have already started wearing face masks and using sanitizers actively.
A number of residents blamed the pharmacies from seeking to profiteer from the situation by faking shortage of stock. On the other hand, some pharmacists are insisting that stocks have run out because of a spike in demand starting Friday.
But the Cable cited a medical doctor in its report who said there was no need for people to be hankering for these commodities. He said the reaction was however to be expected.
According to Olusegun Bankole, of Alimosho General Hospital in Lagos, those who have been confirmed to be infected with the virus as well as well as those close to such persons should be the ones using face masks, not the entire population.
“I think we need more enlightenment. We have an index case in Nigeria but it hasn’t gotten to the stage where everybody needs to start wearing face masks all over the place. I think the people need to be more educated about the issue,” he told Sky News Africa’s Correspondent.
“It is people who have respiratory tract infections or who have been confirmed to have the virus that need face masks so as to prevent the spread to people around them. Those taking care of such people or staying close to them also need to wear face masks like to prevent the virus from getting into their respiratory system. But for the rest of us (Nigerians), I don’t think it is necessary.
“It hasn’t gotten to that stage in Nigeria, so this is just a panic buying. If you go to pharmaceuticals these days, you won’t even see sanitsers anymore and even where they are available, they are very expensive.
“It’s like a case of demand and supply in economics, when there is a sudden stampede or demand for a product or service, like we have for face masks now, naturally, some people will cash in on that and start making business out of it,” he stressed.