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Thai Government to Tackle Face Mask Hoarding, Black Market Sales

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A new national Covid-19 centre will be set up to solve the shortage of face masks that seems to be plaguing Thailand. Earlier attempts to deal with the severe shortage of face masks has failed to ensure availability.

Surgical masks are medical “weapons” for hospital staff and people to fight against Covid-19. So to make sure they are armed properly, a new body is required to solve a range of issues. Including inflated prices to export problems, Public Health spokesman Taweesin Wisanuyothin said after a meeting with the Covid-19 Administration Centre (CAC) on Friday.

The proposal for the centre was made by permanent secretary for commerce Boonyarit Kalayanamit. The CAC meeting was held to consider new measures to contain the virus. The CAC was chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

The scarcity of masks forced the Commerce Ministry to step in and limit their export and make them controlled items. Yet despite the order face masks are still in short supply. Especially in hospitals, not to mention the general public who already consider them rare items.

Face mask hoarding for re-sale on Black Market

face masks

Mask smugglers caught near Cambodian border with more than 60,000 face masks in there pickup truck on March 20th, 2020

Hoarding for resale on the black market is suspected to be a major factor behind the shortage. Furthermore the demand for the items is rising as the number of infections grows.

The CAC was on Friday told to set up two panels — one to regulate the price of medical supplies and another to solve problems related to the export of masks, Dr Taweesin, told the Bangkok Post.

The ministry’s Internal Trade Department said earlier it could not prohibit the export of some patented face masks manufactured under special orders from certain countries. Or those made under the Board of Investment’s condition for shipping overseas.

“Gen Prayut is particularly interested in the export issue, instructing officials to study laws and come up with fair decisions,” Dr Taweesin said.

The premier on Friday ordered the Public Health department to become a centre to manage medical stocks and protective gear. And to also distribute them to hospitals countrywide.

So far up to 210 suspects have been arrested as part of the government’s efforts to crack down on hoarding. Mostly in connection with the illegal trade of face masks, Mr Boonyarit said.

Source: Bangkok Post

 

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