Coronavirus raises prices of disinfectants and masks in Syria
Syrian markets are witnessing a substantial rise in some commodities’ prices, the most prominent of which are disposable medical face masks, disinfectants, and cleaning materials, that are missing in some stores and pharmacies. This increase in pricing came after lots of citizens rushed to obtain necessary precautionary products out of fear of the spreading of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Import crisis in Idlib
The prices of masks and sterilizers raised by 100 to 200 percent due to the increased demand and limited availability. Khaled al-Yamani, a pharmacist in Idlib city, told Enab Baladi that the prices are expected to see an increase in the period ahead because of supplies shortage.
The price of a hand sanitizer bottle raised from 150 to 500 Syrian Pounds (SYP) around (0.135 to 0.451 USD), while masks jacked up from 50 to 150 SYP (0.045 to 0.135 USD), and later it increased from 150 to 300 SYP (0.135 to 0.271 USD) due to the Syrian Pound drop against the dollar.
Al-Yamani confirmed to Enab Baladi that the quantity of imported sanitizers from Turkey declined because of the increased demand for it too.
Meanwhile, Mohammad al-Sheikh Abdo, a pharmacist from Harem city in rural Idlib, said to Enab Baladi that small-size hand sanitizers are missing from the markets, while the large bottle’s price hiked by 500 SYP (0.451 USD).
As for masks, the price per a low-quality piece went up from 25 to 200 SYP (0.023 to 0.181 USD), while excellent quality masks went up from 50 to 400 SYP (0.045 to 0.361 USD).
Nevertheless, Enab Baladi‘s correspondents did not report a significant rise in the prices of foodstuffs in Idlib city.
The Syrian Salvation Government (SG) is managing the affairs of Idlib city through its ministries and bodies of the state. The SG ministry of economy and its entities are responsible for price controls and the punishment of violators.
Disinfectants are missing in regime areas
Enab Baladi noticed a price hike in Damascus markets, more particularly the price of the large-capacity “Dettol” disinfectant bottle to 22,000 SYP (19 USD), the medical alcohol bottle to 1500 SYP (1 USD), the small-size hand sanitizer bottle to 800 SYP (0.722 USD), and the masks to 900 SYP (0.812 USD).
These products were missing from a large number of stores in Damascus due to their high demand and low supply.
The state-run newspaper Tishreen reported on Monday, 16 March, that ” prices went up by more than 20 percent because citizens are over purchasing disinfectant products.
The pharmacists’ chief, Aliaa al-Assad, said that the Syrian Ministry of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection is responsible for pricing the medical alcohol. She also blamed the stores that produce and sell the material.
Besides, al-Assad placed the accountability on the Ministry of Health to supervise its warehouses, according to what was reported by the pro-regime local radio “Sham FM.”
She added the prices of medical alcohol increased due to the high demand and material shortage in the markets.
Al-Assad promised more quantities of medical alcohol in pharmacies in the coming period, especially after giving instructions to the Homs Sugar Refining Mill to start the production process of medical alcohol.
As for masks, the pharmacists’ chief said that they were randomly priced by traders, and over the past period, large quantities of them have been exported, while additional quantities are under production.
Foodstuffs also had their share of the increase, as the price of one kilogram of sugar went up from 500 to 700 SYP (0.451 to 0.632 USD), rice reached the price of 800 SYP (0.722 USD), and onions’ price increased to 900 SYP (0.812 USD), while Masaken Barzah’s local market run out of spices, corns, and potato chips.
According to Tishreen newspaper, one of the shopping centers in Damascus run out of canned food and groceries in less than 24 hours.
Besides, the head of the pricing department in the Directorate of Supply in Damascus, Mohammad al-Baghdani, attributed the prices hike to traders’ gouging of people’s high purchasing of products.
Governmental promised solutions
In an effort to ease the purchasing congestion, the Ministry of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection promised on 17 March to increase the number of selling halls of the Syrian Establishment for Trade to cover the largest possible geographical area by adding 200 new halls across the Syrian provinces.
Jamal Eddin Shuaib, the Assistant Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Protection, said the sale would start in 151 halls of the Social Military institution, in addition to 53 halls of Consumer Cooperative Institutions, according to the local newspaper al-Watan.
Shuaib noted that several proposals aim to reduce overcrowding are being discussed, including the sale of foodstuffs via the “smart card” system for two months instead of one month.
No registered coronavirus infections in Syria so far
The Syrian regime’s Ministry of Health has not yet announced any infections with the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) and has taken some precautionary measures, namely equipping hospitals, expanding quarantine centers, and suspending schools and university attendance.
The ministry of health of the Syrian Interim Government (SIG) has also not registered any coronavirus infection, and the SIG’s directorate of health in Idlib has announced its intention to set up three medical centers to receive the infected if cases were reported.
Meanwhile, the novel Coronavirus has continued to spread globally since its first appearance in China last January, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has called all governments to take drastic measures to combat the crisis.
Moreover, the number of coronavirus infections worldwide increased to more than 186,000, while the number of deaths exceeded 7,400 persons
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