Due to a surge in demand for medical face masks, China is seeking to import the product from Vietnam, according to Le Thanh Cong, deputy head of the Department of Planning and Finance under the Ministry of Health.
In Vietnam, demand for medical face masks and hand sanitizers also increased sharply on fears of potential outbreak of the new coronavirus (nCoV), said Cong in a government meeting on January 31.
Cong attributed a temporary shortage of face masks supply to the fact that Vietnam is dependent on China for input materials, while the production plan was disrupted by the Lunar New Year festival.
As of present, local producers are looking for new sources of materials from Europe and other countries.
Cong said as hand sanitizers are mainly used in medical facilities and acquired through procurement of goods, the supply for individual use would be limited.
Moreover, Cong refuted rumors that hospitals are selling medical face masks and hand sanitizers in the market, arguing that they themselves do not have enough.
Nguyen Anh Tuan, director of the Price Management Department under the Ministry of Finance, informed that under Decree No.109 on penalties for administrative violations against the law on pricing, fee management, invoicing and price quote are compulsory for medical face masks.
“Even those who sell the facial masks at prices higher than the ones quoted would be subject to fines from VND10 – 15 million (US$433 – 649) and refund buyers,” Tuan stressed.
Vice Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai said the Law on Prices prohibited any act of taking advantage of economic crisis, natural disasters, enemy sabotage, fires, epidemics and/or other abnormal circumstances from setting buying and selling prices of goods or services unreasonably.
Hai said the market surveillance authority would step up efforts to monitor the prices of medical masks in the market and deal with violations.
In the past few days, prices of medical face masks and hand sanitizers in Hanoi have skyrocketed as locals are rushing to stockpile these products.
Some store owners even declined customers’ request for purchase of facial masks in large quantity.