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Sales of PPE take nosedive

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Sanitiser, handwashing gels and facemasks are on sale in a Phnom Penh store. Heng Chivoan

Sales of PPE take nosedive

Some Phnom Penh businesses say that sales of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as sanitiser, handwashing gels and facemasks have dropped in the last two weeks after the Ministry of Health announced that there have been no Covid-19 cases.

However, the ministry is still urging people to practice proper sanitation and keep social distancing to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Since the epidemic started late last year, some Phnom Penh healthcare vendors have taken the opportunity to earn a tidy profit from the sale of sanitiser, gels and masks. However, the business seems to be currently slow.

Srey Leak, an online retailer, said she has about 1,000 bottles of handwashing gels in stock and hasn’t been able to offload them since mid-April.

She said in March, she sold about 200 bottles a week of 250ml virus-killing gels for $8 per bottle, but now 100ml of hand-washing gel goes for $3 or doesn’t sell at all.

“I believe that I cannot sell the handwashing gel because buyers have not run out of their supplies. It may also be related to the drop in Covid-19 infections in our country,” she said.

Another vendor who asked not to be named said in early April, 200 boxes of masks sold in just two days, but now the masks and gels are not selling well.

“More than 200 bottles of handwashing gel are still in stock, and I have stopped importing them. I understand that most people prefer to wash their hands with soap instead of spending money on alcohol and handwashing gels,” he said.

The sales staff at the Keo Nimol Baby & Kids branch near Phsar Kabko market in Chamkarmon district also concurred that such items have not sold well in recent weeks.

“I think people bought enough for a while. On the other hand, people have changed to washing their hands with soap as they can save some money,” a staff member said.

She said 60ml bottles of sanitiser and hand-washing liquid sell for $3 and on average she could sell about 30 bottles a week.

As of April 30, no new cases have been reported and the Ministry of Health said the number of recovered patients had risen to 119 out of a total of 122 who were infected with Covid-19.

Still, the Ministry of Commerce continues to monitor the circulation of black market products, including fake alcohol, handwashing gels, and masks that do not have quality certificates and import permits from the ministry.

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