It was around 2pm on Saturday. A man was selling hand sanitisers in front of a shop in Hazari Lane in the port city. People were buying 100ml bottles of hand sanitiser for Tk50. When a police patrol car came towards the lane, the man fled the spot immediately. But he left some of the bottles there. The police confiscated the bottles and later it was found that the sanitisers were fake.
Seeking anonymity, a medicine trader of the same lane, who witnessed the incident, said a gang of five men are involved in the selling of fake hand sanitisers. They had around 500 empty bottles of a hand sanitiser manufacturing company and four drums of blue coloured liquid. One of them was selling the fake sanitisers, another three were pouring the liquid in the empty bottles and one was guarding the group, said the trader.
The local administration has learnt that fake hand sanitisers are being sold not only in Hazari Lane but also in other places of Chattogram city. Many bottles full of fake sanitiser have been seized.
According to the Drug Administration, a group of dishonest people are trying to make money by selling fake sanitisers because the demand for this product is high during this coronavirus outbreak.
Hossain Mohammad Imran, assistant director of Directorate of Drug Administration, Chattogram, said, "These unscrupulous people are selling the fake hand sanitisers. A decision has been taken to carry out raids to remove fake disinfectants from the market."
People can identify these fake products if they are careful, he said. They should buy hand sanitisers from registered shops only, he added.
Chemists say that isopropyl alcohol, aloe vera oil and glycerine are required to make hand sanitiser.
SM Abay Kausar, professor at the chemistry department of Chattogram University, said, "A hand sanitiser is prepared in a laboratory by mixing different chemicals in certain proportions. If the proportions of the ingredients in the sanitiser are not maintained properly, the skin will be harmed. Various health problems may also arise from using such sanitisers."
Dr Rafiqul Maola, head of the Department of Dermatology and Venereology at Chattogram Medical College Hospital, said, "The chemicals used in fake hand sanitiser should not be used on skin. If anybody uses it, he or she may suffer from different kinds of skin diseases."
Meanwhile, the Consumers' Association of Bangladesh (CAB) has asked the administration to be strict in stopping the sale of fake disinfectants. The association has also called for consumers to be aware of this problem.
SM Nazir, vice president of the association, said, "During any crisis in the country, some unscrupulous people make fake products and cheat people. Police have not as yet arrested the men who sold fake sanitisers in Hazari Lane in Chattogram. If they were punished, other fake product manufacturers would be afraid. People should verify if a product is fake or original before buying it."