H1N1: Unmasking Market, Crisis Management

Fighting Swine Flu In SambaKL Report


With Swine Flu infections surging steadily but surely, masks are the new fashion statement. Green, white, black and more recently yellow masks are now making people objects of attention in markets and overcrowded buses.

Now even the state government has started clicking its workers with masks to showcase its preparedness!

The mask is the new FMCG, with massive market. Now a Re 1, simple mask is selling upward of Rs 10. Certain better masks of Rs 5 are going to market for as much as Rs 100, even more. And nobody cares.

The fact is that doctors have never asked for a mask unless it is N95. That is quite costly compared to the stuff being sold and consumed. Apparently it is out of stock and now central government is starting supplies with 1000 pieces!

“A medicate informed through facebook that he has some stocks,” a SKIMS employee said. “Within half an hour, he changed his status saying the stock is exhausted.”

Even though N95 is being recommended by the doctors as a precaution, insiders in medical fraternity say it is not a sure system of any protection. Technically called Respirator, these masks are used more for preventing people from exhaling their infections into the open rather than protecting them from infections that others might be carrying.

These respirators prevent snot, spit or other virus-carrying particles from becoming airborne by helping the wearer to retain his infection with him when he sneezes, coughs, drools, spits or talks excitedly. Potency of this mask reduces further when it is not airtight from sides when it is used.

This is precisely why doctors are seeking special suits to wear while handling patients. The government says they stand assured by the central government that its supplies of PPEs (personal protection equipment) would start soon. PPEs comprise various gears including clothing, caps, goggles, and high-end respirators.

Absence of protective gear in hospitals is such that doctors have started protesting. Doctors in GMC have started protesting against the government decision for sending them to war without weapons.

Interesting twist in the story is that while the crisis exists since October and more than 10 people have already died (officially it is five less), J&K’s health ministry has not stake in diagnostics of the disease. Still the testing facilities are funded by an American project. But that does not prevent government for staking credit of the preventive show!


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