Stores report sanitiser shortages amid heightened coronavirus fears

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By Latrishka Thomas

Supermarkets and pharmacies across Antigua say they are experiencing a shortage in hand sanitisers and disinfectants amid rising public concern surrounding the coronavirus.

Atiya Bass, purchaser of Chase Distributors in Factory Road, told Observer that the sale of such products had soared by around 90 percent in recent days. For the last week, people have been buying it “by the case”, especially Lysol.

She said that the purchases are being made primarily by government offices and private firms.

She explained that the inflated demand – coupled with the dearth – had caused some people to create alternative germicides.

“Presently they are buying the handwash along with rubbing alcohol. They buy both of them, mix it and make hand sanitiser with it,” Bass shared.

Sysco pharmacy in Jolly Harbour also reported that stocks are low as they are “still waiting on wholesalers to bring the shipment”.

And managers at Ceco pharmacy spoke at length about the challenges they have been facing.

“We would get facemasks on a large supply if possible, out of India, and India has actually put a ban on selling masks [overseas]. So, that has been so since end of January actually,” a manager disclosed.

He said hand sanitisers had become “a bit of a challenge” too.

“Because, number one, they can’t be exported on planes anymore because of the alcohol level in them. So it’s by boat and that is something like a weekly basis, if available,” he added.

Another representative of Ceco pharmacy said the St John’s-based outlet had completely sold out of Lysol, Dettol and salve.

In addition, she said that persons have been buying masks by the box, and vitamin C and zinc supplements were also under increasing demand.

In fact, according to her, in just one weekend an entire case of masks sold out. As a result, Ceco is now limiting sales of masks to five per person.

First Choice supermarket in Anchorage Road also confirmed a shortage of hand sanitisers.

Meanwhile, residents who spoke to Observer in St John’s yesterday said that they did not feel the country was adequately prepared for an outbreak. Many said they were taking no chances when it came to practicing thorough hygiene.

“Personally, I don’t think we’re quite ready for it. The challenge that I have is that there’s so much information going on and a lot of it is conflicting and maybe the authorities just need to put something together and that will be the facts,” one man said.

“I don’t think that we are ready, because only now the government seems to be making preparations on the whole hospital,” another said.

They both stated that they are maximising efforts to retain good hygiene. One woman said her workplace had been educating staff on the virus and had “provided everything that’s needed to prevent it”.

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  1. Someone should tell folks what good substitutes are. Anything with less than 60% alcohol won’t sanitize properly. I heard someone on the radio say they use vinegar and peroxide? Sounds like a salad dressing for wounds. Why can’t Antigua make hand sanitize stuff? We have plenty of aloe plants, and gosh knows we have lots of alcohol. I saw NYC is having their prisoners make it. Sounds good they get to keep clean and do something good. Certainly this could be made locally. Just as long as they get the mixture correct.

  2. Why can’t we make hand sanitize solution here in Antigua? We have plenty of Aloe and gosh knows we have plenty of alcohol. I saw on the news that New York is making its own. Certainly it can’t be that hard with the proper instructions from the medical persons.


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