Coronavirus: Sale of industrial masks triples

Coronavirus: Sale of industrial masks triples; docs say they won’t help much

Passengers at Krantivira Sangolli Rayanna Bengaluru Railway Station in wake of COVID-19 outbreak in Bengaluru on Thursday. DH Photo/ Pushkar V

The fear of a potential Covid-19 outbreak has caused a surge in the sales of industrial masks, even though medical experts say the protection may not be a foolproof safety from the disease.

Bengaluru-based industrial products distributor Calcutta Industrial Products, which sells masks to automobile, pharma and other industries, admits the demand among general consumers has spiked. 

“Our clients are companies. We sell industrial products like masks, boots and other protective gear. But lack of medical masks in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak has forced people to turn to industrial masks,” the company’s director Amit Banthia told DH.

Industrial masks are used by construction workers, housekeepers staff and assembly line workers. While they offer protection against dust particles and gases, medical experts say the industrial masks are not the best safeguard from deadly microbes. “N95 grade respirator face masks are best suited to protect people from Covid-19,” said Dr B V Murali Mohan, a senior consultant pulmonologist. “Industrial masks filter dust and gases at industrial sites. Users have to remove and wear them again once in 15 or 20 minutes, which only defeats the purpose (of keeping the virus at bay) and would create more harm than good.”

But there are more signs that people are turning to industrial masks.

Srinivas Reddy, who sells industrial products, said panic buying has become a problem. “The fact people are turning to industrial masks only shows the level of panic,” he said. He said the sale of face masks has almost tripled since the Covid-19 cases emerged. “The demand is more in the city... among the general public.”

Dr Mohan also pointed out that the masks are only a form of deterrent and people should follow the medial guidelines such as washing hands with sanitisers and avoiding contact with infected people.

Even as hand sanitisers and medical/disposable masks sell like hotcakes, health officials have reiterated that masks should be worn by patients and not by the public at large. 

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