Across the country, data shows a 30-40% drop in sales during the last 15 days. The Chemists’ Association of Pune district said the drop has been a whopping 90% in the local market.
Jagannath Shinde, president, All India Organization of Chemists and Druggists Associations, told TOI that several reasons have led to the drop in sales. “A section of the population may have reduced the use of masks and sanitizers after the drop in cases and reduced Covid-19 fear. At the start of the second wave, the sales were about 90-95% in April, which is now down to 50-60%,” he said.
Shinde said multispecialty hospitals treating Covid cases still continue to use masks and sanitizers. “But the sales have dropped on account of non-use of these items by relatives of cured patients or people in certain localities that now have a lower number of cases,” he added.
Anil Belkar, secretary, Chemists’ Association of Pune district, said, “We have seen a 90% drop in sales of both masks and sanitizers at retail stores in the last 15 days. After the drop in cases, citizens aren’t buying as many masks and sanitizers. More awareness is needed about how these products should continue to be used for the next one year.”
Belkar said that he would earlier sell 100 sanitizer bottles (500 ml) daily, which has now reduced to 10-12 a day, while the earlier sale of 50 N-95 masks daily has now come down to not more than five per day.
Anshumali Jain, president, All India Mask Manufacturers Association, quoted a 50% drop in sale of masks since the second wave started waning. He pointed out that the drop is primarily at the institutional level.
“When the wave started, a lot of government and private tenders were floated for bulk purchase of masks for various government departments, including public hospitals. The number of such tenders has reduced recently,” said Jain.
Jain, however, said citizens may not be using medical-grade masks. “Most citizens use cloth masks. Now, when places are unlocking, the public will have to be conscious about the diligent use of masks and sanitizers,” he added.
Shaily Grover, founder, Paramount Surgimed, a healthcare company dealing in the manufacture of masks, said, “Retailers, who were earlier requesting 2-3 lakh pieces a month, have now reduced orders to 50,000-odd masks. There’s a 50% drop in such requests since the number of cases started reducing.”
Dr Kapil Zirpe, member of the Pune Covid-19 task force and head of the neurotrauma unit at Ruby Hall Clinic, attributed the drop to a sharp reduction in patients. “Healthcare workers, isolation ward employees, cured patients’ relatives, jumbo clinic staff attached to such patients may have now naturally also lessened the use of N-95/surgical masks and sanitizers,” he said.
Zirpe said citizens should continue to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour, including use of masks and sanitizers, to avert a possible third wave.
Sudhir Mehta, president, Mahratta Chamber of Commerce Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA), told TOI that he recently conducted an informal survey of mask compliance in several areas of the city. “I noticed people not wearing masks in many places. It is natural to feel happy about the number of cases falling but people have resumed normal activities without taking precautions,” he lamented.