The swine flu scare has increased the sale of respiratory masks in the city despite the fact that medical experts hold them ineffective against H1N1 virus.
Only N95 masks, available with the state government, can provide protection against swine flu, experts said.
Nevertheless, each chemist is selling around 50 surgical masks a day. These masks can be bought for Rs 10 a piece and are commonly demanded by private hospitals, nursing homes and clinics.
The extent of panic buying can be gauged from the fact that even chemists are using them now.
Sunny Kumar, who runs a chemist shop outside Children's Hospital in MP Nagar, said, "After many people started coming to buy masks, I also became apprehensive. I myself started wearing a surgical mask."
Prateek Jain, a chemist in New Bhopal, said people were buying the masks as they are cheap and available. "For the first time I am witnessing such a large-scale sale of the respiratory masks," he said.
Another chemist at 10 Number Market, wishing not to be named, said youngsters also want to buy N95 masks, that are not available with chemists here.
Medicine specialist at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Bhopal, Dr Alkesh Khurana, said N95 masks, which were available online at Rs 300 to Rs 400, were effective against the virus.