KATHMANDU, May 11: With the government authorities failing to conduct effective market monitoring, the black market of safety medical accessories such as disposable face masks and oximeters are found to be rampant.
Due to the soaring cases of coronavirus infections and the deaths linked to this viral infection, the demand for disposable surgical masks and oximeters has increased excessively. While the face mask is considered essential to protect individuals from spread of the coronavirus, an oximeter is an important device to check oxygen saturation level among COVID-19 patients.
The police on Sunday arrested Bhup Narayan Sah, proprietor of Binita Surgical Store in Barah Bigaha of Janakpur Sub-metropolitan, on charge of selling an oximeter for Rs 3,000 while the actual cost of the device is only Rs 1,700. Earlier on Saturday, the District Police Office, Parsa, arrested Ramhari Tiwari of Birgunj Metropolitan-16 on the similar charge. Tiwari was found charging up to Rs 3,500 for the device that costs Rs 1,900.
Last week, the Department of Commerce, Supplies and Consumer Protection (DCSCP) slapped cash fines against number of stores in the Kathmandu Valley that includes Himalayan Life Care Industries, All Fine Surgical Suppliers, Anuj Store, You and We Store and RN Store on charge of black marketing of the disposable face mask. These stores were penalized with the cash fines from Rs 5,000 to Rs 200,000 after they were found to be charging customers five times higher than the maximum retail price of the safety masks.
Shiva Raj Sedhai, Spokesperson of the DCSCP, said a wide gap in manufacturing costs and retail price has been traced while carrying out inspections of a number of stores. “The department has mobilized an additional number of teams for market inspections following recent incidents of black marketing of the necessary medical equipment,” he said.