Even vaccinated people have started wearing masks again in Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh. With daily reports of new outbreaks and the rise of the Delta variant of COVID-19, sales of hygiene products are increasing again, especially those from China.
Heading for Friday prayers in the city, prayer mats in hand, no one could be seen without a face mask. Dhaka city was as busy as ever but there are stalls on almost every street selling Chinese hygiene products, especially in front of mosques.
Sales of face mask, gloves and sanitizer, mostly made in China, have exploded in the past week, coinciding with a fresh surge in COVID-19 cases.
The country reported 3,447 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday. The cases have been rising remarkably in Bangladesh since the beginning of this month with offices, businesses and transport services staying open.
The Bangladeshi cabinet issued new rules on Thursday mandating masks at all gatherings, in shopping malls and restaurants. In parts of Dhaka and elsewhere in the country, mobile courts ensure that people follow all the health rules.
Chinese products are very much in demand. "Due to soaring infections, products like masks and sprays are selling out almost as quickly as they go on the shelves," said pharmacist Jobayer Hossain.
Customer Shah Alam told Xinhua that he was buying masks and a temperature gauge. "We need to keep one at home to feel safe," Alam said, adding that he was very worried about the Omicron variant.
"I've come to buy many masks," he said. "And the price of the masks has increased a lot. But we must follow public health recommendations and restrictions."
Zakir Hossain Mithu is a proprietor of Ismi Surgical shop. His store is full of Chinese surgical items. "China has helped us a lot during this pandemic, especially with these essential products like nebulizers and oxygen," he said, but sales of masks continue to outstrip all other items.
"We're selling up to 300 boxes of masks every day, and they all come from China. It would be impossible for us to run this business without Chinese partners. Compared to products from other countries, the quality of their products is better and the price is lower." said the trader.
"If our customers are satisfied, we're also satisfied," he added.