Amid a possible outbreak of the new deadly coronavirus (nCoV) in Hanoi, locals are rushing to stockpile medical face masks and hand sanitizers, sending prices of these products skyrocketing in recent days.
An increasing number of customers have been looking for medical masks at drug stores, super markets and convenient stores, including Aeon Mall, Vinmart, or Circle K, as well as on major e-commerce platforms such as Sendo, Tiki, Shopee and Lazada.
A number of online stores on Shopee have announced the “out of stock” for Japanese Unicharm 3D Mask, which is said to be able to block virus, while others raised prices from VND16,000 (US$0.69) for a 5-piece pack to VND23,000 – 25,000 (US$1 – 1.08) with five to seven days until delivery.
Notably, single-use medical masks with prices of VND30,000 – 40,000 (US$1.29 – 1.73) per box have nearly tripled to VND80,000 – 120,000 (US$3.45 – 5.18). Others brands of active charcoal face masks such as Kissy, Kari Bon, Kitty, Anvilife, or Leo also witnessed price hikes from VND10,000 – 20,000 (US$0.43 – 0.86) apiece to VND30,000 – 60,000 (US$1.29 – 2.59).
Most store owners attributed prices hikes of facial masks to a sudden rise in demand. Some even declined customers’ request for purchase of facial masks in large quantity, due to the supply shortage.
Nguyen The Trung, a reader on the Vnexpress, said that the Market Surveillance authority should step in and stabilize the prices of facial masks.
Meanwhile, another said there should be no shortage of facial masks, as they are easy to produce at low price, adding “it is unacceptable for those that hoard the products to sell at high prices.”
“They are prioritizing profits at the expense of the fear of the public,” he said.
Chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chung on January 30 urged city agencies to store between 15 and 20 million medical masks to cope with the possible outbreak of nCoV.
For a city of eight million people, Chung requested the municipal Department of Health to check the production of medical face masks to ensure sufficient quantity.
In case of disease outbreak, the masks would be delivered for free to local people, local media quoted the mayor as saying.
Shortage of facial masks currently is a common issue on global stage, as people around the world are stockpiling these products to protect themselves from the deadly virus, depleting online malls and store shelves from California to Beijing, Bloomberg reported.
Across China, Hong Kong and Singapore, people lined up for hours at stores and pharmacies hoping to secure dwindling supplies. People from San Francisco to Orlando said they were unable to find surgical masks at their usual outlets.