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Govt warns of stringent action against hoarding of masks, hand sanitisers
The Centre on Friday warned of stringent action against hoarding and black-marketing of face masks and hand sanitisers amid rising demand due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Union Minister for Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals D V Sadananda Gowda said although the government does not have the latest update on supply-demand of these products, the real assessment of availability will be made.
"While the industry players are saying there is no shortage of face masks and hand sanitisers in the country, but our department will assess the availability and accordingly take further action," Gowda told reporters.
The government has not received any reports of shortage or increase in prices of these products as of now. However, the concerned authority has been directed to keep a close watch on this and take stringent action against black marketers and hoarders, he said.
So far, India has 31 confirmed cases of the infection while nearly 29,000 people have been put under surveillance. Many people are scrambling to buy face masks and hand sanitisers, which is creating a shortage-like situation at many places.
On availability of medicines, the minister said there was no shortage of any Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) or medicines even though 95 per cent of the country's API imports come from China.
"Certainly, we have got sufficient medicines and sufficient APIs so that for another three months... there is no shortage in producing medicines," he said.
Gowda said the government will celebrate 'Janaushadhi Diwas' on Saturday across the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also participate in this initiative.
Janaushadhi Kendras are considered the world's biggest retail pharma chain, with around 6,200 outlets in 700 districts. Total sales in the financial year 2019-20 has crossed Rs 390 crore and led to a total savings of approximately Rs 2,200 crore for common citizens, he added.