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COVID-19: This pharmacist is working day and night to make hand sanitisers

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A Melbourne-based pharmacist has been working until the early hours of the morning for the past few weeks to keep up with the demand for hand sanitisers.

Nish Vaitha, a compounding pharmacist* in Melbourne's western suburbs says he had to take matters into his own hands when an elderly customer could not find hand sanitiser anywhere including his own pharmacy which had run out of it due to high demand.


  • Australia has registered 1,709 confirmed cases as at 3 pm on 23 March 2020.
  • Australians have been urged to practise good hand hygiene and social distancing to combat coronavirus.
  • The Federal Government has shut down “principal places of social gathering” which include pubs, bars and licenced clubs (including RSLs).

"The demand for hand sanitisers has shot up. Every second person in the last couple of weeks has asked for hand sanitiser," Mr Vaitha told SBS Hindi.

"I had to turn down one of the customers, an 80-year-old man because we didn't have any hand sanitisers left. He was very disappointed and told me that he had been to most superstores in the neighbourhood but could not find one," he recalls.

That evening, Mr Vaitha decided to make his own sanitiser in the lab. 

"I worked till morning with my associate and we made more than 100 bottles of hand sanitisers. I could not believe all the bottles were gone in 45 minutes the next morning," he says.

Indian Australian Pharmacist Nish Vaitha

Mr Vaitha has appealed to the community to not purchase in bulk.

"Please do not panic. We have enough medicines for everyone," he says.

"We have also made a rule that whatever hand sanitisers we make will first to the vulnerable people in my local community."

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Mr Vaitha has also been delivering kids' medicine to the community.

The extra demand for medicines and sanitisers has meant little rest and time for the family.

"I have not spent any time with my family in the past few days but I am happy to help and work for the extended family which is my community," he says.

Australians have been urged to maintain good hand hygiene to stop the spread of coronavirus. It involves washing hands frequently with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser. This has led to an overwhelming demand for hand sanitisers. 

As of Tuesday afternoon, only people who have recently travelled from overseas or have been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case and experienced symptoms within 14 days are advised to be tested. 

Coronavirus symptoms can range from mild illness to pneumonia, according to the Federal Government's website, and can include a fever, coughing, sore throat, fatigue and shortness of breath. 

If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor, don’t visit, or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

*Many pharmacies help patients take their medicines by ‘customising’ them for their individual needs. These pharmacists are known as compounding pharmacists. 

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