At the end of last week, the prices of medical masks in the pharmacies of Nizhny Novgorod, Russia’s fourth largest city 450 km to the east of Moscow, were at the usual level of 15 to 80 rubles per pack, depending on the number of pieces in a package.
However, the demand for this commodity has soared, and it is literally flying off the shelves of pharmacies. The Vita pharmacy chain even imposed limits on the ordering of masks in the Internet -- no more than five per day. As a result, the prices for them have quadrupled.
As the representatives of Nizhny Novgorod pharmacies told wek.ru, retail prices of medical masks have hiked by 374% and wholesale ones by 566.67%. However, according to the report of the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS), prices for this product grew in 68 regions of Russia. In particular, in the Ivanovo region, it was up 485%, in Dagestan up to 650%, while the Moscow region showed an increase of "only" 305%.
The FAS experts are confident that the skyrocketing prices for medical masks are not economically justified and are caused by the desire of pharmacies to profiteer on panic buying of the product. The FAS called the situation "economic profiteering". In its view, publications in the spirit of "anti-monopolists see no signs of cartel agreement" do not reflect the official position of the agency.
Turning to the Nizhny Novgorod region, there is a paradoxical situation: buying medical face masks, people don not wear them on the street. The question arises: why did they buy them?
Gleb Nikitin, the governor of the region explained that there is an operational headquarters for preventing the spread of the coronavirus. The decision to establish the headquarters was taken at a meeting of the sanitary and epidemiological commission under the government of the Nizhny Novgorod region.
Nizhny Novgorod-based I.N. Blokhina Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology has become the base for a diagnostic testing of patients’ files with suspected new coronavirus infection (2019-nCov). It is already using a testing system to detect this virus used there. This is the only center in the Volga Federal District that provides for the diagnostics of this kind.
In addition, a total of 48 schools, 16 kindergartens, partly 139 groups at other 70 kindergartens, and 281 classes at 44 schools have been placed under total quarantine for influenza and A.R.V.I. in Nizhny Novgorod. All supplementary education institutions for children are closed because of quarantine, too.
In its turn, the Federal Service for Surveillance of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing (Rospotrebnadzor) recommends the following preventive measures to counter coronavirus, influenza and other respiratory viral infections: to wear a medical mask and change it every two to three hours, to wash and antisepticise hands, as well as to wash nose with isotonic salt solutions. It is recommended to avoid shaking hands, kissing, hugging and undoing hair in public places.
Eugeny Brun, the chief addiction medicine specialist of the Ministry of Health, has exploded the myth about using alcohol as a preventive measure against a cold or coronavirus. He pointed out the ineffectiveness of liquors. Moreover, alcohol puts additional stress on heart and may bring about dire aftermaths.