Get the right gel to fight coronavirus

MUSCAT: Even as coronavirus is spreading its tentacles across the Sultanate, there is no letup in products that do not conform to specified standards flooding the market.

While cautioning consumers against purchase of substandard sanitisers that are making rounds in the market, a senior official at the Public Authority for Consumer Protection (PACP) said, “buying these products create more harm than good”.

The official was referring to the ban on a number of sanitisers that did not meet the standards specified by the authorities.

“There are specific ingredients to be used in sanitisers. Consumers should stick to tried and tested products for their own safety. If a product is found to have non-conformity to the standards, the authorities should be alerted”, he said.

Six sanitisers — New NB, Blue Drop, Rojanet (Red Fruit), MCL professional, Handy and Glow – were banned from the market by PACP as they did not meet the required specifications and were found to be not effective against the novel coronavirus.

“The decision to ban these products was taken after a series of regulations issued in this regard and prohibiting circulation of a wide range of hand sanitisers since the start of the COVID-19 crisis”, a statement from PACP said.

Suppliers have been instructed to withdraw the products from the Sultanate’s markets with immediate effect in order to protect the public health.

“Consumers are urged to check the product labels for relevant information including, but not limited to, country of manufacture, name and address of the company placing the product in the market, manufacturing or expiry date and instruction for use”, it said.

According to consumer protection law, violators of the regulations can be punished with an administrative fine of no less than RO 50, and not more than RO 1,000 and the penalty is doubled in the event of Repeat the violation.

In the event that this violation continues, an administrative fine of RO 50 is imposed for each day of the violation with the total not exceeding RO 2,000.

Hand sanitiser is a liquid or gel generally used to destroy infectious germs on the hands.

The WHO advises that everyone uses it to prevent the spread of coronavirus. It also highly encourages hand washing with water and soap.

A normal hand sanitiser contains up to 70 per cent alcohol and kills 99.9 per cent germs. However, counterfeit sanitisers produced by unregistered companies contain less alcohol though labels read otherwise. There are two types of hand sanitisers; alcohol-based and non-alcohol based.

The non-alcohol hand sanitisers contain products such as antiseptic (providone-iodine), cleansing agent (benzalkonium chloride) or antibacterial (triclosan).

However, for novel coronavirus, non-alcohol based hand sanitisers won’t be of much help.

While calling upon suppliers and manufacturers not to take advantage of the situation by neither making compromise with the quality nor tampering with the price, PACP said it “will keep strict vigil on the market”.