Kochi: At a time when many pharmacies are charging exorbitant prices for face masks and hand sanitisers in the backdrop of high demand due to the coronavirus pandemic, a surgical shop owner in Kochi, Kerala is selling masks just for Rs 2.

Supply of masks and sanitisers have been limited and are being sold at higher prices than normal due to inflated demand following a surge in Covid-19 cases in the country.

However, the surgical store in Kerala has decided to stick to the original costing and has so far sold over 5,000 masks in the last two days.

According to a report on India Today, Nadheem, the co-owner of a surgical shop in Kochi, told ANI, "We have sold around 5,000 masks, at Rs 2 each in two days. We decided to sell masks at a reasonable price, especially to the common people like hospital staff and students."

Thasleem PK, co-owner of Cochin Surgicals, said, "We have been selling masks at Rs 2 for the last 8 years. But now, the rate has gone up everywhere. We bought the masks at Rs 8 or Rs 10 and are selling at Rs 2, while others are selling them at Rs 25."

The government has declared face masks and hand sanitisers as essential commodities for the next 100 days to prevent hoarding of these items in its fight against coronavirus.

The Central government has invoked the Disaster Management Act 2005 to allow the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) to regulate the availability and prices of surgical and protective masks, hand sanitisers and gloves.

Last week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared coronavirus as a pandemic. Globally, at least 1,45,374 confirmed cases have been reported and over 5400 people have lost their lives due to the disease.

So far, India has 110 confirmed cases of coronavirus.