There has been an upsurge in the demand for alcohol-based hand sanitzers in response to the threat posed by a potential coronavirus outbreak, the B&FT can confirm. Checks show that on the average, sellers have recorded a 1,200% increase in demand for hand sanitizers.
One pharmacy in the Central Business District (CBD) of Accra indicated they had recorded a sale of 1 bottle of hand sanitizer in January with 27, and 67 in February and the first 10 days of March, respectively. Some suppliers in the CBD have confirmed the hike in demand, with a number of them having run out of stock.
“We have run out of supply as there have been many people coming to buy; parents for their wards in school, hospitals, restaurants, churches and others [institutions]. They are also very conscious in asking for alcohol-based ones, as that is what has been recommended by the health authorities.” One seller said.
The same cannot be said about the N95 masks, which have been recommended in certain quarters as a precautionary tool. Checks by the B&FT revealed the availability of other variants of surgical masks, but scarcely any N95 masks. However, there have been calls to stop potential stockpiling of these masks, which might prevent those who need them most – frontline healthcare providers – from accessing them.
Dr. Amesh Adalja, a scholar at the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health noted, “They end up creating a false sense of security and most people don’t wear them appropriately. People who are not in the medical field who wear the masks often come in contact with germs when they lift the mask up to eat or slip their fingers under the mask to blow their nose.
The best ways for the general public to protect themselves are the basic hygienic measures. That includes washing your hands regularly and covering sneezes and coughs.”
Sub-Saharan Africa had seemed impervious to the viral disease which has ravaged parts of East Asia and Europe, baffling many in the medical community. However, since the beginning of March, the seeming barrier appears to have been breached with about 102 cases and 1 death cases confirmed in Nigeria (2), Togo (1), South Africa (7), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (1), Senegal (4), Cameroon (2) and Burkina Faso (2). There have also been cases recorded in Egypt (55), Algeria (20), Morocco (2) and Tunisia (5) in North Africa, with the sole death occurring in Egypt.
This came in an update, Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of the African Center for Disease Control (CDC) gave to reporters at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa on Tuesday.
The global death toll from the coronavirus is now over 4,000, with more than 110,000 confirmed cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) recorded.
According to Worldometer, a website which compiles new case numbers, the coronavirus has spread to more than 115 countries and territories, including 7,513 in South Korea, 9,172 in Italy, 7,161 in Iran, 530 in Japan, 1,412 in France, 729 in the U.S. and 321 in the U.K.
As part of efforts to contain the outbreak, governments have closed borders and suspended land and air travel with the worst-hit countries.
It would be recalled that President Akufo Addo recently placed a temporary ban on foreign travel on all ministers, deputy ministers, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) and heads of government agencies, in response to the spread of the coronavirus.