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|The price of masks and hand-wash has been skyrocketing since coronavirus inspections were detected in Vietnam. Source: vov.vn|
Pham Thi Huong (Tay Ho district, Hanoi) bought a package of masks for VND100,000 ($4.35). However, only 30 minutes later, when she returned to the same store near her house for more masks, the price climbed was already VND200,000 ($8.7) per package.
Ha also added that many drugstores in the area are out of stock while many people still come asking for masks and dry hand-wash since these items are recommended to prevent coronavirus infection in public.
Many customers searched for the N95 mask as it was advertised to be able to keep the wearer safe from the coronavirus. Cuong (Truong Chinh, Hanoi) said while many stores still have masks, however, prices have increased. In particular, medical masks cost up to VND150,000-200,000 ($6.52-8.7), while dry hand-washing bottles now can fetch VND280,000 ($12.17).
During the weekdays, these products only cost VND60,000-70,000 ($ 2.61-3.04)per package of masks. A pharmacist said that the demand to buy masks has increased, so the stores are out of stock. Many wholesalers also reported running out of stock, beating prices higher.
Although prices at drugstores are spiralling out of control as stocks run out, most supermarkets keep steady inventories of masks and mouthwash at stable prices.
On the morning of January 31, after the first three cases of coronavirus infection were discovered in Vietnam, many residents of Vinh city, Nghe An flocked to pharmacies and medical supplies shops to buy masks and dry hand wash.
Without detecting a local infection, the people of Danang have taken to wearing masks everywhere.
The director of Medical Equipment and Construction Department under the Ministry of Health, Nguyen Minh Tuan, said that, “Most materials used for manufacturing masks are imported from China, but with the current outbreak, China keeps the materials for domestic use. So we are asking businesses to find new sources of raw materials to ensure the quality and supply of medical products immediately.”
Facing this situation, on the morning of January 31, the Vietnam Directorate of Market Surveillance issued Document No.149/TCQLTT-CNV to request the strengthening of prevention and control of nCoV in which it requested the market surveillance agencies in provinces and cities to intensify activities to detect and promptly handle individuals profiteering on this health emergency.
In the evening on January 31, the Department of Economic Police (PC03, Hanoi Police Department) in collaboration with Hanoi market management team No.1 inspected a number of medical equipment shops which were raising the price of masks to many times the usual price for personal gain.
At the time of checking, a store representative said that medical mask packages were sold for VND130,000-220,000 ($5.6-9.6). Normally, a package costs VND50,000 ($2.17).
Also, on the night of January 31, the working group checked Medical Equipment Trading Shop No.118 Ngoc Khanh owned by Nguyen Thi Thu. She claimed to have sold 134 boxes of medical masks during the day for 6-7 times the usual price, for about VND300,000-350,000 ($13-15).
|Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam checking the situation at National Hospital for Tropical Diseases. Source: VNA|
On the morning of February 1, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, head of the national steering committee for coronavirus prevention and control, chaired an online conference with leaders of provinces, cities, and departments on the implementation of the committee's instructions on strengthening measures to prevent the spreading of the epidemic.
The deputy prime minister said, “From now on, if people can produce evidence, such as photos of any drugstore that increases prices, the Ministry of Health can immediately withdraw the licence of these stores.”