Prices of protective facemasks have inched-up and as they become the quickest and lucrative commodity just as the country records a surge in COVID-19 new infections.
At the time President Nana Akufo-Addo is encouraging the public to mask-up, and security agencies enforcing the wearing of the facemask, the commodity has become a cash cow for producers and traders.
The Ghana News Agency (GNA) on a visit to retail shops and street hawkers observed that prices had shot up again to GHS50.00 for a pack of 50 pieces.
The prices of the same quantity of surgical facemask a week ago was between GHS20.00 to GHS39.00.
Business centres visited included Latex Foam Company Limited, the China Mall, street vendors at the Central Business District of Accra, Lapaz, Kaneshie, and Kwame Nkrumah Circle.
Sales officials at the Latex Foam outlet in the North Industrial Area, who declined to mention their names, told the GNA, a box of a facemask sold at GHS35 last week but the management of the company had asked them to sell it at GHS50.00.
“I have no idea why the price has changed. Even with the GHS 50.00 price, we have a limited stock,” he said.
A section of patrons and traders the GNA spoke to suggest that the Government needed to find a way of controlling the prices of both the facemask and sanitizers in other to reduce the rate of infection.
Madam Sylvia Lamptey, a trader at the Central Business District, said when the distributors of the protective gear increase the prices, the retailers had no option than to pass on the cost to patrons.
“Every trader wants profit so we do not have a choice but to increase it in order to recoup our capital and get profit. If the price is controlled it will be affordable and accessible in the right quantities and there will be no need to horde the products,” she added.
On the other hand, Mr George Atiso, a patron said in other to successfully enforce the face mask directive, the government needed to control the prices of the facemask and deter traders from selling at exorbitant rates.
A recent study conducted by the Ghana Health Service showed that only 42 per cent of Ghanaians wore facemasks correctly.
Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, Director-General, Ghana Health Service, at a recent media engagement said the survey was conducted at public spaces including lorry parks in some key districts leading to the number of COVID-19 cases in the Greater Accra Region between 7:00 hours and 10:00 hours on January 29, 2021.
He said the data showed that 36 per cent of people had facemasks but were wearing them inappropriately while 22 per cent of people were found not in facemasks at all.
Ghana as of Thursday, February 4, 2021, had recorded 5,786 active cases of COVID-19 out of a total of 68,559 cases, with 433 deaths.
The new cases were 777.