Fighting the pandemic from behind the counters

Customer buying medicines at a medical shop in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday.

Customer buying medicines at a medical shop in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: S. MAHINSHA

Chemist stores ensure constant supply of life-saving medicines amid the lockdown

They may not be on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. But they are playing an important role amid the lockdown by ensuring the supply of life-saving medicines to people and keeping them safe.

In every locality, besides grocery and vegetable shops, it is the chemist stores that open every day without fail. With the rise in number of cases, scores headed straight for pharmacies seeking masks, sanitisers, and gloves. For people who are ill or on medication for various health problems, these shops often make the difference between life and death. Medicines, baby food, diapers and sanitary napkins – the shops, present in almost every neighbourhood, stock them all.

The lockdown though has forced chemists also to make adjustments to how they function. With fewer people stepping out of homes, the shops do not remain open late into the night.

Asim Basheer, who runs a chemist shop at Vallakkadavu, says he gets more customers in the morning hours. At night, they close around 8 p.m. if there are no customers.

Taking precautions

When they are open, they take social distancing very seriously. Only one customer is allowed at the counter, the rest have to wait a safe distance away. Home deliveries are being made initially, but have now been stopped. And medicines are sold only if doctors’ prescription are produced. While they quickly run out of masks and sanitisers each time these are replenished, they are faring better with medicines. There are concerns though over possible shortage as distributors do not have enough people to supply medicines to stores. “If medicines do not reach us, then we will have to go and pick them up,” says Mr. Basheer.

They have adequate stocks of drugs such as insulin or hormone tablets that require refrigeration apart from other medicines, but it is baby products that they are swiftly running out. “People are buying these in larger quantities fearing that these will become unavailable soon, especially if the lockdown gets extended,” he says. People are buying medicines too for a month or two together, Mr. Basheer says.

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2020 8:49:06 PM |

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