Facemasks were scarce until a few months ago. Today, they are being prepared indigenously and in all sorts of styles and colours
In the initial days of the pandemic outbreak, the demand for facemasks soared to a point where they suddenly went out of stock everywhere. Some medical stores had a short supply tucked under the shelves which they would either save for the very ‘needy’ — as opposed to those who just wanted to ‘hoard’ these disposable protective items — or sell them at high prices and in limited amounts. Overnight, the rate of a common surgical mask that was earlier sold at Rs 10 per piece, spiked to Rs 100 or so.
But the surgical masks didn’t offer the best protection from coronavirus, it was said. A better option was the N95 mask or respirator, which was an expensive proposition. Their prices too shot up from (approx) Rs 180 to, well, a thousand bucks. Only the privileged lot could afford these. But soon these too were not available in the market.
There was a frenzied hunt for facemasks. Some people ordered them online, and got them too. Others waited while the medical stores in their neighbourhoods promised to cater for them.
Today, over three months later, the situation is such that people are commonly seen with face coverings but these aren’t all medically approved — most of these are (homemade) basic cotton cloth masks. They also come cheap, and are now readily available not just at medical stores but at roadside stalls. No wonder you find them in a variety of styles and colours. It won’t be long before we get to see designer mask wear in the market!