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Hand Sanitizers, Face Masks: The More The Panic, The Higher The Prices

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Hand Sanitizers, Face Masks: The More The Panic, The Higher The Prices
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Tobi Adebayo

Many Nigerians woke up to the news of a confirmed case of the deadly coronavirus in the country on Friday, 28th February.

The infected patient, an Italian man, came into the country through Lagos state, a piece of information that sent chills down the spines of many of the residents of the overpopulated nature.

The first instinct of every Nigerian, particularly Lagosians was to protect themselves against the deadly virus with the basic things highly recommended by the World Health Organisation; hand sanitizers and face masks.

Several hours later after the announcement, many Lagosians began to lament about the unavailability of hand sanitizers and face masks at supermarkets and pharmacies.

The few shopping outlets that had these essentials in stock sold them at eye popping prices. E-commerce websites were not left out in the price surge as a bottle of hand sanitizer went from N500 to N4500. The price of a pack of regular face masks that sold for N500 rose to N3000.

Visits to some supermarkets and pharmacies by AN24.net proved that the more Lagosians panic, the higher the prices of these essentials became. As of Wednesday afternoon, a small bottle of Purrel hand sanitizer cost N6500 while a pack of regular face masks cost N8000.

A big bottle of hand sanitizer cost N20,000 while fancy hand sanitizers the size of two big Tiger batteries combined went for the sum of N3000naira.

Speaking to AN24.net, the manager of a popular supermarket in the Ikeja area of Lagos who spoke under the condition of anonymity said “business is business.”

“Although it may seem insensitive to increase the prices of hand sanitizers and face masks but it is what it is. That’s how business is conducted. The higher the demand, the higher the price.

“How many times do we get a rush for these products like this? Price increment occurs in situations like this because of the scarcity of the products in demand,” he said.

While the manager spoke, a customer who Identified himself as Phillip Ikokwu berated supermarkets, pharmacies and other shopping outlets selling hand sanitizers and face masks at exorbitant prices.

“Nigerians are naturally wicked, if you haven’t noticed. Other countries would cut down prices and make these products more available because of this deadly situation but reverse is the case. Our own supermarkets and pharmacies are even hoarding them.

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“How do you explain stores being completely sold out on the morning of the day the Federal Government broke the news? My wife and I drove around at 9am that day and most of these stores claimed to be sold out. My guess is that they took them off the shelves to stick new price tags. If that isn’t wickedness, I do not know what else to call it.

Ikokwu said Nigerians should stop blaming the government if the virus begins to spread in the country due to the “greed of the sellers.”

“If an ordinary man cannot afford N20,000 hand sanitizer and N10,000 pack of face masks, how do you expect him to protect himself? If the virus begins to spread, when will it not get to those inflating prices or their loved ones? We need to be considerate in this country. At the end of it all, we are only hurting ourselves,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, the Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has warned sellers of face masks, latex gloves, sanitizers and anti-bacterial wipes against increasing the prices. The commission warned that those sellers risked being prosecuted.

The commission, in a statement, said it “intends to strongly enforce the full letter of the law, including the fullest extent of penalties associated with this conduct.”

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