Muscat: With four confirmed cases and 250 people under quarantine, people have been taking measures to equip themselves with masks and hand sanitizers.
Consumers also turned into social media to express their concern on the lack of availability if not for the hiking of surgical mask costs. In one incident cost of one piece of mask had gone up to 450 Baisas in the Sultanate.
The Ministry of Health said they have taken measures to ensure there would be availability of products for the public and not organisations.
Stock shortage of surgical masks and hand sanitizers both in the private pharmacies and suppliers in addition to the prices increase of these products resulted in an urgent meeting on Wednesday at the Ministry of Health’s Directorate General of Pharmaceutical affairs and Drug Control (DGPA&DC).
The joint meeting was spearheaded by the Director General of PA & DC Dr Mohammed Al Rubaie, the Director General of Consumer Services and Markets Control as well the Head of Regulation and Supervision of Markets at the Public Authority for Consumer Protection, in addition to number of directors of the main private institutions that import and distribute masks and hand sanitizers to the local market for pharmacies and shops.
In a statement to the media, the Ministry of Health said, the meeting highlighted availability of masks and hand sanitizers, and the establishment of the necessary controls for sustained provision in the pharmacies and shops at appropriate prices while adhering to the necessary standard specifications for these products.
The Directorate General has issued circular no. (43/2020) for all pharmacies and drug stores that prevents the wholesale of the two products while stressing selling them for the public only. This was issued due to the fact that people and institutions took advantage of the situation and started to buy these products in large quantities to export them abroad with the purpose of selling them at high prices for profit Wholesale in some countries with high incidence of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) where these products are scarce as indicated by some reports. Coordination with the concerned authority is taking place to prevent the exportation of any quantity of these products outside the Sultanate.
In spite of the challenges that face the manufacturers as some countries were prevented from exporting these products in addition to the severe shortage and high prices of the raw materials used in their manufacture, the pharmaceutical facilities affirmed making every effort to ensure the provision of these products and taking no advantage of situation for their profit.
Moreover, the products’ local manufactures would be urged to increase the production to keep pace with the steady increase in demand. It is further necessary that what will be provided to the local market, whether produced by local companies or imported from abroad, must be in accordance with international specifications and standards related to quality, as well as committing not to take advantage of the current situation by raising prices.
There is now full coordination between MOH’s DGPA & DC and the PACP’s Directorate General for Consumer Services and Market Control in place with regard to monitoring of pharmacies and shops to ensure compliance with the decisions of this meeting, whether it is in relation to the price or specifications or others, provided that any violations are referred to the competent authority to take the necessary punitive actions to ensure the protection of community and its rights.
The two Directorates General have hence called on everyone to comply with the instructions issued by the official authorities and avoid the excessive and unjustified storing of the mentioned products.