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Want N95 mask? Get doctor’s prescription

Various N95 respiration masks at a laboratory of 3M, that has been contracted by the U.S. government to produce extra marks in response to the country's novel coronavirus outbreak, in Maplewood, Minnesota, U.S. March 4, 2020. Picture taken March 4, 2020. REUTERS/Nicholas Pfosi

Various N95 respiration masks at a laboratory of 3M, that has been contracted by the U.S. government to produce extra marks in response to the country's novel coronavirus outbreak, in Maplewood, Minnesota, U.S. March 4, 2020. Picture taken March 4, 2020. REUTERS/Nicholas Pfosi  

In a new mandate to curb unnecessary demand, the Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration on Friday said that chemists cannot sell N95 masks without a doctors prescription. The FDA also warned that serious action would be taken against those who are found selling masks at high prices or hoarding them.

“Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits and N95 masks are being sold at very high prices in medical shops.The State has received many complaints about the same. It has also been found that many are making bulk purchases and hording PPE kits and N95 masks,” FDA commissioner Arun Unhale stated in his circular, adding that it is now compulsory to sell the kits and masks only on doctors prescription.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak in China, shortage of PPE gear and masks has been reported from across the world.

While the Indian government has currently banned exports of N95 masks, the manufacturers are focussed on making other surgical marks to get good returns from exports.

Health officials have clarified that N95 should be worn by healthcare workers, infected persons and those taking care of infected persons.

Watch | Coronavirus: Can masks protect you?
 

Abhay Pandey of All Food and Drug Licence Holders Foundation said that the prescription clause will lead to unnecessary rush for doctors consultations. “The government should instead mandate that each mask should be sold with a bill so that an FDA scrutiny can be done and action can be initiated against those who are hoarding or selling at high prices,” he said.

Meanwhile, the State has advised to postpone any kind of mass gatherings till the spread of the virus is contained and have also started screening at the Pune and Nagpur airports.

Some employers in malls, theatres, restaurants have began taking precautions by keeping hand sanitisers available and offering masks to employees.

Till date, 229 people were placed under isolation in Maharashtra of which 204 have tested negative. Reports of 25 people are still awaited. State officials said that 16 people were under isolation at the Mumbai’s Kasturba Hospital, three in Nashik, four in Pune and one each in Nanded and Sangli.

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2020 4:32:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/want-n95-mask-get-doctors-prescription/article31003645.ece

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