Medical shops said on Wednesday that people were flocking to these to buy masks, which they believed would provide a protective cover. Some members of the public said that seeing this demand, the shops charges double the cost of the mask. Inquiries with one of the shops revealed that the actual cost of a three-layer disposable mask was Rs.3 a piece. The person running it said that the cost was higher on Tuesday because the suppliers themselves had raised the price in view of the sudden spurt in buying these.
“It is Rs. 3 today (Wednesday), but there is no stock,” said M. Anbarasu of Aruna Medicals on Marudhamalai Road. “Normally, we keep only about 10 masks. Only students from the Bharathiar University used to purchase these for their laboratory use. No one anticipated the flu and the consequent demand for the masks,” he said. On Wednesday, 50 persons approached the shop for masks in three to four hours since it opened for the day. “Mostly, these were being asked for school-going children,” Mr. Anbarasu said.
The scenario on Avanashi Road at Peelamedu reflected greater panic. The manager of a shop that belonged to a chain of pharmacies said 100 masks were sold from this outlet alone by afternoon. It was more on Tuesday. But, this shop said the mask cost Rs.6. Other than blaming the higher cost on suppliers, there was no other explanation on the varying cost of the same type of mask. The Coimbatore Medical College Hospital took for testing the blood samples and throat and nasal swabs of 16 persons on Wednesday. Sources said the results of the samples taken earlier were awaited.