Hand sanitisers in short supply due to buying rush sparked by outbreak fearsThe disinfectant is seen as providing protection against the spread of the disease.
Reports about the effectiveness of face masks and hand sanitisers in providing protection against coronavirus infection has sparked a buying rush leading to shortages of the two materials in the valley.
According to different supermarkets and pharmacies, their hand sanitiser stocks are depleting rapidly, and they have had to resort to rationing. Demand for hand sanitisers increased sharply in recent weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak that looks like becoming a global pandemic.
Indira Thapa Magar on Sunday unsuccessfully searched for Dettol hand sanitiser at different medical stores and supermarkets. The 37-year-old housewife from Basundhara had never purchased hand sanitisers before, but she rushed to the market as soon as she learned from social media about their effectiveness in keeping oneself safe from infection.
“I was trying to purchase it for my children who study in grades three and five as their hands come in direct contact with many children at school,” she said.
The World Health Organisation said that rubbing the hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or washing them with soap and water regularly and thoroughly helps to kill the virus.
Hand sanitisers contain 60-95 percent alcohol-based chemicals which are effective in killing the virus.
Sabin Byanjankar, sales manager at Bhat Bhateni Super Market, Tripureshwor, said that demand for hand sanitisers had jumped by more than 80 percent, especially from mid-February.
According to him, all Bhat Bhateni outlets in Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur have run out of Dettol hand sanitisers, but they still have two-three other brands, including Himalayan, in stock.
“We have other brands of hand sanitisers, but people want Dettol which we do not have in stock,” he said. “We have been trying to supply the product,” he told the Post.
Many people visiting the market have been asking for Dettol hand sanitisers, and it has been two weeks since sellers ran out of stock, he said. Dettol hand sanitisers are mostly imported from India, he added.
“Daily sales of hand sanitisers barely reached eight to 10 units before the coronavirus outbreak, but now we are selling more than 100-150 units daily,” he said.
He said that demand for Dettol liquid antiseptic and wet tissue paper had also swelled by more than 50 percent in recent days.
Mero Kirana, an online grocery store, has run out of hand sanitisers. Prabin Karki, administrator at Mero Kirana, said that the domestic supplier and distributor of Dettol hand sanitisers exported them to China which created a shortage of the brand in the market.
Karki said that their one month's stock of hand sanitisers was sold out in a week as buyers were ordering 10 units each.
Sabi Singh, CEO of Online Aushadhi, said that she had been receiving queries from corporate houses, especially banks, which have started keeping hand sanitisers at the entrance, leading to a surge in demand.
The retail price of hand sanitisers ranges from Rs80-200 depending on the size.
A sales assistant at Prakash Pharmacy, Teku said they had been rationing hand sanitisers so that more customers could be served.
"We are fresh out of Dettol hand sanitisers, and we expect to receive new shipments in a week," said an assistant at NIMS Pharmacy, Thapathali.
Norvic Pharmacy, which stocks hand sanitisers of brands other than Dettol, said the number of buyers had increased in recent days.
According to the BBC, sales of Dettol and Lysol products surged with the coronavirus outbreak continuing to spread. The disinfectant is seen as providing protection against the spread of the disease, although its effectiveness has not yet been scientifically proven, it said in the report.
Dettol owner Reckitt Benckiser said that the company was observing some increased demand for Dettol and Lysol products, and were working to support the relevant healthcare authorities and agencies. Dettol and Lysol are two of the world's leading disinfectants.
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of September 22, 2020
What is Covid-19?
Covid-19, short for coronavirus disease, is an illness caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, short for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Common symptoms of the disease include fever, dry cough, fatigue, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
How contagious is Covid-19?
Covid-19 can spread easily from person to person, especially in enclosed spaces. The virus can travel through the air in respiratory droplets produced when a sick person breathes, talks, coughs or sneezes. As the virus can also survive on plastic and steel surfaces for up to 72 hours and on cardboard for up to 24 hours, any contact with such surfaces can also spread the virus. Symptoms take between two to 14 days to appear, during which time the carrier is believed to be contagious.
Where did the virus come from?
The virus was first identified in Wuhan, China in late December. The coronavirus is a large family of viruses that is responsible for everything from the common cold to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). After an initial outbreak in Wuhan that spread across Hubei province, eventually infecting over 80,000 and killing more than 3,000, new infection rates in mainland China have dropped. However, the disease has since spread across the world at an alarming rate.
What is the current status of Covid-19?
The World Health Organisation has called the ongoing outbreak a “pandemic” and urged countries across the world to take precautionary measures. Covid-19 has spread to 213 countries and territories around the world and infected more than 31,405,983 people with 967,505 deaths and 22,990,260 recoveries. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 5,557,573 with 88,943 deaths. While Pakistan has reported 306,304 confirmed cases with 6,420 deaths. Nepal has so far reported 65,276 cases with 427 deaths.
How dangerous is the disease?
The mortality rate for Covid-19 is estimated to be 3.6 percent, but new studies have put the rate slightly higher at 5.7 percent. Although Covid-19 is not too dangerous to young healthy people, older individuals and those with immune-compromised systems are at greater risk of death. People with chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease, or those who’ve recently undergone serious medical procedures, are also at risk.
How do I keep myself safe?
The WHO advises that the most important thing you can do is wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizers with at least 60 percent alcohol content. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unclean hands. Clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces like your computers and phones. Avoid large crowds of people. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist for longer than a few days.
Is it time to panic?
No. The government has imposed a lockdown to limit the spread of the virus. There is no need to begin stockpiling food, cooking gas or hand sanitizers. However, it is always prudent to take sensible precautions like the ones identified above.