Masks, Sanitizers, and Spices Are Getting Scarce Amid Rise of COVID-19

As the number of new Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases surge worldwide, panic buying has led to the scarcity of hand sanitizers, masks, as well as spices that allegedly have anti-inflammatory properties and upgrade the body’s immune system. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo introduced the state’s hand sanitizer brand due to the skyrocketing price of the product on e-commerce platforms such as Amazon.

“You can’t get [hand sanitizer] on the market, and when you can, it’s very expensive,” said Cuomo as Adage reported, revealing the name of the product, called “NYS Clean.” The governor added that the state has recorded 142 COVID-19 infections so far. As of Thursday, March 5, the price of a 12-ounce Purell sanitizer stood at $ 50 on Amazon.

Do-It-Yourself Hand Sanitizer

The surging price of hand sanitizer has triggered some people’s creativity and they have begun to make their own. They usually mix 60 percent alcohol, aloe vera gel, and essential oils to make their DIY sanitizer,as Grow reported..

Coronavirus has similar symptoms to common flu and has killed more than 3,500 globally so far. The virus was first discovered at a wet market in Wuhan, China, and spread quickly to more than 100 countries, sparking worldwide panic.

Mask Hoarding

Face masks are the most needed items as the outbreak has yet to slow down. In Indonesia, a box containing 50 covers is sold 60 Euro (around Rp 900,000) at e-commerce platforms.

One of the employees at a private hospital in Depok, West Java, told InsideOver that many people have been unable to find masks since the new coronavirus outbreak started. The hospital management will prioritize its employees first when it can get boxes of masks.

“We apologize to patients for not providing masks as everything is hard to find here,” one of the nurses told InsideOver on Tuesday, March 10.

The nurse also added that healthy people don’t need to wear face masks unless a doctor advises him or her to do so.

CDC: Face Masks are for Sick People or Those in Close Contact, Not Everyone

The U.S Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) echoed the statement by saying that face masks are only for those infected with respiratory illnesses, medical staff, and caregivers who have close contacts with people with suspected COVID-19 symptoms.

“CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including Covid-19,” the agency told in its official website.

The scarcity of face masks amid the rising cases of COVID-19 has triggered profiteers to produce counterfeit masks. At the end of February, China grabbed around 31 million bogus face covers, as Kyodo news reported.

Coronavirus infection has infected more than 110,000 globally, more than 80,000 are in China, as John Hopkins CSSE data showed. However, the number of new cases was trending down as of Monday, March 9.

Healing Spices are Sold Out

Ginger, turmeric, and curcumin have been among the hottest items as those spices are believed to have properties to improve immunity. The three spices are often used in cooking and traditional drink or known as jamu in Indonesia.

In some of the traditional markets in Indonesia, the prices of red ginger surged to 100,000 Indonesian Rupiah per kilo ($6.97 USD). In grocerie stores, a shopper admitted finding it hard to find red ginger in good condition. Currently, Indonesia has recorded 27 positive coronavirus cases as of Tuesday, March 10. The first two cases of COVID-19 in the country were announced in early March and sparked panic buying across the archipelago.

A molecular biology professor at Airlanga University, Surabaya Prof.C.A Nidom suggested that Indonesians can consume Indonesia’s authentic spices to tackle the COVID-19. However, another expert claimed most Indonesians misunderstand the professor’s statement as if those spices can cure the illness caused by COVID-19.

“There is no clinical testing or test on humans that back the claim (that ginger, curcumin, turmeric, lemongrass, and other spices can cure the new coronavirus),” said Dr. Danang Ardiyanto, a researcher specializing in traditional medicines Suara quoted, adding that those spices can only boost immunity.