Hyderabad: Over 10 pharmacists died and around 120 persons working in pharmacies in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) limits were infected by Covid-19, according to Kishan Murari Shetty, general secretary of Greater Hyderabad Retail Medical Shops Association (GHRMSA).
In Inderbagh Koti, 10 wholesale retailers got infected with Covid-19. It is the largest wholesale market for the sale of bulk drugs. After knowing this, the retailers closed the shops on Friday for three days. The GHRMSA is planning to give advisory to all the retailers to shut the shops after 7 pm. There are as many as 16,500 retail medical shops in the city registered under GHRMSA.
'The pharmacists are at high risk of contracting the disease. People with fever, cold and cough visit the pharmacist first. The stores can be very small and sometimes it may be impossible to maintain a 2 feet distance. COVID-19 transmission can also happen during the exchange of medicine and money. Pharmacy stores are equipped with air-conditioning which allows the air to flow one side which allows the virus to travel in one direction fast, which puts this personnel at high risk. People with COVID asymptomatic visits without a test for other medicines which can also become dangerous for pharmacists" The members opined.
People avoid maintaining social distancing at shops. “Because of the monsoon, it is also the time of seasonal flu and if we allow giving medicine without a prescription, then there might be someone with COVID-19 and we will not able to recognize them,” says B Shiv Shankar. He also adds "we have family and we cannot put our family at risk."
The pharmacists of Sanath Nagar in the suburb of the city have stopped giving fever, cough, and cold medicine without a prescription. The retailers complained that people were not willing to give the details and even threatening them.
"Women are afraid of giving their details as they think it will be used for different purposes. When we ask them for their details, they are not willing to tell us. The authorities should inform the people why we are asking them for details, then it will become easy for us. Cases are increasing every day in the city and as part of precautionary measures, we have stopped giving fever, cough medicine without a prescription. ” said B. Shiv Shankar, a pharma retailer in Sanath Nagar.
On June 30, Hyderabad Chemists and Druggists Association advised the retailers in high-risk areas to close the shops by 7 pm. In April, the municipal administration has asked all the pharmacists and pharmaceutical associations to keep a record of the names, phone numbers and addresses of people who come to buy medicines for ailments like fever, cough, and cold. They asked the retailers to hand over the data to the respective commissioners.