Since last week, the demand for various Covid-19 protective supplies such as facemasks, sanitisers, handwash, thermometers, and oximeters has been increasing slightly as the number of Covid-19 positive cases has been rising every day, with over 50 deaths on each of the last three days.
However, unlike the previous year, there is no panic buying among customers. Producers, importers, wholesalers and retailers, all said there is enough stock and supply of Covid protective supplies in the market.
The sale of facemasks, hand and floor sanitisers, thermometers and oximeters has increased while the demand for oxygen cylinders remains the same.
Sohel Ahmed of Nowshin Pharmacy in the capital's Shewrapara said, "I have sold 20 bottles of hand sanitisers in the last two days whereas I sold around four bottles a day in January and February. The sale of facemasks has also doubled."
There is enough supply in the market so prices have not gone up, he added.
Hasan Sarkar, a sales representative of an importing company in Dhaka said he has received more orders for digital thermometers, infrared thermometers, and oximeters in recent days.
"On Saturday, I received orders for 100 digital thermometers while I sold around 50 pieces in March. I sold 40 oximeters in March, and only eight in February," he said, adding that they have enough supply to meet the increased demand and they are selling at the same prices as before.
However, there is a tendency of stockpiling oximeters among some unscrupulous businessmen.
Visiting a drug store in Shahbagh, this reporter found that the shop owner was instructing the staff to hide oximeters, saying that the government has announced a lockdown from 5 April and that demand would increase.
However, he denied that he was asking his employees to hide oximeters and agreed to sell an oximeter to this reporter.
Some shop owners are indeed selling oximeters at a higher price. Md Sohel, a salesman at Avijat Pharmacy in Shahbagh, said, "We are selling the Jumper brand oximeter for Tk1,700 and other brands for Tk1,000-1,200."
In recent times, the price of the Jumper oximeter was around Tk1,100 and other brand ones were around Tk600.
Shafiq Ahmed, a resident of Mirpur circle one, said he bought a 1 litre bottle of antiseptic for Tk230. Half an hour later when he went to the shop for another bottle for his neighbour, the shop owner said he had no antiseptic, although there were at least six bottles of antiseptic in the shop.
Wholesalers said the price should not be increasing as there is sufficient stock and supply to meet the increased demand. They urged customers not to panic-buy.
Golam Mostafa, the proprietor of MS Trading at Aziz Cooperative Market in Shahbagh, said there was little demand for these products even a couple of weeks ago and he had to incur losses.
"I bought oximeters at Tk1,400 per piece in June last year but I could not sell them all. Retailers are not interested in buying those even for Tk600 a piece. I also bought KN-95 masks for Tk80 a piece but could not sell even at half the buying price," he added.