PHARMACIES across Nigeria are raking on the millions as the sale of surgical masks has soared over recent weeks and prices have more than quadrupled soaring to N1,300 from N350 before the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Following the outbreak of the virus in China last month, international health organisations have recommended the wearing of masks as one of the ways to control its spread. Although Nigeria has be free of the virus so far, many Nigerians are taking precautions mainly due to the fact that there is a large Chinese community in the country and local retailers regularly travel to China to purchase their stocks.
Laide Soetan, the managing director of NHC Pharmaceuticals, said a Chinese firm had even asked if she could ship about 100 cartons of the protective masks to China. Ms Soetan, who expressed surprise at the order, said the client was also willing to pay for the shipment in dollars.
According to her, prior to the outbreak of Lassa and Coronavirus viruses, a pack of 50 face masks sold for N350. However, in the wake of the epidemic, an unprecedented heavy demand for the item had skyrocketed the price to N1,300.
Last Friday, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organisation warned that the world was running out of masks and other protective equipment. He said he would be speaking to members of the supply chain network for protective gear to try and resolve bottlenecks in their production.