As India continues to fight coronavirus pandemic with the number of confirmed cases rising to 2301, including 56 deaths and 156 of those who have recovered, the Centre told the Supreme Court on Friday that it would publicise helpline numbers for effective implementation of its notification meant to control prices of face masks and sanitizers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The top court, through video conferencing, was hearing the plea of NGO ‘Justice For Rights Foundation’ and others seeking direction to ensure fair and equitable distribution of masks and also the sale and distribution of hand sanitizers and liquid soap among the public to deal with the pandemic, also called COVID-19.

A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Deepak Gupta, which had earlier issued notices to the Centre and the Delhi government on the PIL, was informed by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that the Centre is looking into the matter and will publish and publicize helpline numbers for effective implementation of its notification to control prices of said masks and sanitizers.

Lawyer Amit Kumar Sharma, appearing for the NGO, has sought the court’s intervention to ensure that sale of masks and sanitizers take place at controlled and prescribed price.

The NGO said though steps have been taken, their implementation has not been timely and effective and the same is required to be done for controlling the spread of this pandemic.

It also said government officials including policemen be advised to take immediate and strict action in this regard of black-marketing and hoarding of masks and sanitizers.

The top court on April 1 had sought responses from the Centre and the Delhi government on the plea seeking direction to ensure fair and equitable distribution of masks and also the sale and distribution of hand sanitizers and liquid soap among the public.

Meanwhile, world over reports of shortage of medical equipment have emerged, especially from the United States which has maximum number of COVID-19 cases, at 245,573. Vox reports, health care professionals and experts say US has a shortage of masks, gowns, gloves, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) for doctors, nurses, and other medical staff.

As hospitals face an overload of COVID-19 patients struggling to breathe, innovative medical staff are turning to snorkelling masks from sports stores to stop their lungs from collapsing. The idea started in Italy, the worst-hit country by the coronavirus pandemic, with 13,915 deaths and 115,242 cases.

A report by Wall Street Journal says, China’s auto makers, the world’s biggest iPhone assembler and even state-owned energy companies are using their assembly lines to pump out more face masks and other medical supplies as the country responds to a coronavirus outbreak that has spread around the world. Masks are crucial for health care workers, doctors, and nurses working on the front lines of the disease to have the proper protective gear to lower the risk of contracting Covid-19.