Goa faces a huge shortfall in supply of face masks and sanitisers. The absence of the two essential tools can blunt the efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus. People are forced to take risks due to non-availability of masks and move with uncovered mouths or reuse the disposable masks, compromising on their health. The shortfall has been there for almost two weeks and may continue unless the government takes immediate steps to make them available. The distributors and pharmacists are apparently constrained by pricing issues which the government must intervene immediately to resolve.
There has been a sudden spurt in demand for masks and sanitisers due to coronavirus. They are very essential for prevention of spread of the virus through droplets from mouth or nose or through hand contact. A few face masks used to be sold every day in the normal times in the state; but the demand has risen to over 2,000 per day now. The government fixed the rate of the face masks at Rs 10 each but failed to ensure their availability. The three-ply face masks and hand sanitisers which used to be sold at Rs 10 and Rs 100 each are being sold at Rs 30 and Rs 500 or more. However, not all who are willing to pay the higher prices get them because of short supply.
On top of risking their life due to non-availability of face masks, the general public has to endure daily disgrace from policemen who have been stopping motorists on the roads and asking them to wear masks. The non-availability of masks has led to people ignoring the directions issued by the government to protect themselves and others from contracting the disease. The state government must not lose any time in reaching out to distributors to resolve the pricing and supply issues, so people get masks and sanitisers easily and at reasonable rates. As it is a health emergency, the government can tackle the pricing issue with subsidy.