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Feb 03, 2020 / 16:23

1,220 drug stores in Vietnam fined for making use of nCoV

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam has warned drug stores to refrain from hiking prices of face masks or see their licenses revoked.

Over the last three days, Vietnam’s market surveillance agencies have fined 1,221 drug stores nationwide for driving up the prices of medical equipment unreasonably and seized nearly 318,620 medical masks, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT).

 Vietnam's market surveillance agency checked on a drug store. 

The authority penalized 1,136 drug stores on Sunday alone and seized 313,750 face masks.

According to the Vietnam Directorate of Market Surveillance, there have been rampant cases of increasing prices of face masks, hand sanitizers and medical gloves across the country.

On February 2, the Directorate said people were no longer lining up to buy face masks as in the previous two days, while many drug stores and medical equipment stores reported the face masks were out of stock or there was a small quantity left.

In the central region, demand for medical masks remained high and exceeded supply. In Da Nang and Quang Ngai, prices of medical masks declined from VND100,000 (US$4.32) to VND70,000 (US$3.03) per 50-piece box, still double the price before the outbreak of the new coronavirus (nCoV). Most drug store owners attributed such prices to a sudden surge in demand and high input prices.

In the southern localities of Ho Chi Minh City, Dong Nai anh Vinh Long, most stores were able to meet demand for face masks and hand sanitizers, and people were no longer rushing to buy face masks as in the previous days.

Meanwhile, local mask producers at a meeting with the MoIT said they consider face mask production their social responsibility and are committed to not raising prices as people are stockpiling the products in prevention of the outbreak.

At a government meeting on February 1, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam warned drug stores to refrain from hiking prices of face masks or see their licenses revoked, adding this is matter of morality and discipline.