PRICES of surgical masks have shot up following an announcement by President Emmerson Mnangagwa all citizens in public places were now required to wear face masks as part of the country’s measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Mnangagwa Friday announced the extension of the coronavirus-induced lockdown period by a further 14 days.
The President said under the partial lockdown regime, all people must wear face masks of any type, including home ones, in all public spaces to avoid contracting or transmitting the virus to other citizens.
A survey carried out by NewZimbabwe.com in Bulawayo Saturday revealed some unscrupulous pharmacies and shop-owners had more than doubled the prices of the life-saving material.
Before they were made compulsory, some pharmacies and shops were selling a single mask for US$0,50 but are now charging as high as US$2 each for the same product with some better-quality ones costing up to US$4.
“I imported my surgical masks from South Africa and there is no way I can sell them in local currency.
“The masks are made from very expensive material and that is why they are pricy,” said a Pharmacy owner who operates along George Silunduka Avenue.
The pharmacy is selling each surgical mask at US$2.
Some shops selling the kits in local currency have also increased prices from $40 to $82.
“I have been forced to raise my price from 40 bond to 82 because of the sudden high demand. I have already run out of stock,” said another shop owner.
Some enterprising tailors are also moving around the streets selling home-made ones at relatively cheap prices.
“I make the masks using my sewing machine at home. I can make 20 to 40 masks a day but my challenge is that I do not have enough raw material because most of the Indian shops which sell the raw material are closed due to COVID-19,” said Memory Kabasa, a tailor.
Kabasa sells each face mask for $30 in local currency.