Coronavirus fear: Hand sanitizers, other supplies stolen from doctors’ offices

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on March 12, 2020


Amid the outspread fear of the coronavirus pandemic, people in the impacted countries have resorted to stealing hand sanitizers and other necessities from doctor’s offices as supplies run out, according to media reports.

For instance, Dr Brett Oliver, a family medicine doctor in Kentucky, noticed that hand sanitizers in his office kept mysteriously disappearing from the exam rooms where he sees his patients, CNBC reported.

Dr Chesney Fowler a visiting physician at Maryland and Washington D.C. hospitals also noticed that blue surgical masks were being swiped at the hospitals, the report said.

In India, a pharmacist in Pune had been taken under custody earlier in March for allegedly stealing N95 masks and other medicines worth ₹35,000 from a reputed hospital of the city, according to a Pune Mirror report.

Prices of surgical masks and hand sanitizers have shot up tremendously as the panic regarding the Covid-19 pandemic spreads across the globe. This is owing to recommendations by Health departments across countries to use hand sanitizers for prevention. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that sanitizers with over 60 per cent of alcohol are better than washing hands with soap and water in order to prevent infection.

Many have taken advantage of the situation by selling counterfeit supplies banking on the fear.

Earlier this week, the Drug Control Department of Jammu and Kashmir had ceased "fake" hand sanitizers, which were being supplied to the market in bulk as per media reports. The authorities had also sealed a re-fill plant in the Ganderbal district of J&K, where the fake sanitizers were being packed and transported to the market, the report said.

The state food and drugs department have urged pharmacists not to hoard essential supplies including masks, and hand sanitizers, which are widely used to prevent coronavirus from spreading.

The Centre is also taking necessary measures to prevent stockpiling of supplies to avoid artificial shortage as per media reports.

According to recent reports, 60 confirmed coronavirus cases have been reported in India.

As of Wednesday, 118,326 confirmed cases of the virus had been reported across the world, with the death toll reaching 4,292, according to the World Health Organization.

Published on March 12, 2020

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