Protection mask for COVID-19 coronavirus

Coronavirus: Heavy fines in Turkey for raising mask prices

The Turkish government will limit the export of masks to cover national demand, which has grown in Turkey by 70%. The authorities already apply heavy fines after prices multiplied by 20.

Turkish authorities have announced that they will begin to apply export restrictions to other countries of disposable medical material, including masks, goggles and sterile gloves, as a preventive measure against a possible arrival of the COVID-19 coronavirus; besides, heavy fines will be imposed to those who speculate on the price of protective masks.

The export restrictions entered into force on March 4 after its publication in the Official Gazette of the Republic, and are intended to cover domestic demand given the continued expansion of the coronavirus throughout the world, as explained by the Minister of Commerce of Turkey, Ruhsar Pekcan, during a press conference in Ankara.

Pekcan also added that the Turkish Advertising Commission had imposed fines on at least 9 companies for unreasonably raising the prices of this type of material. “The commission examined 9 companies and decided to impose a fine of 104,781 liras (about 15,480 euros) on each one. We will continue to monitor prices, and those who re offend will pay a fine 10 times higher than the first,” said the minister.

Although many experts question the effectiveness of protective masks in the general population in preventing the spreading of coronavirus – except in the case of medical personnel or people already infected – the fact is that Turkey, like many other countries , has experienced a tremendous boom in the demand for these products. In the case of masks, sales increased by 70% in Turkey during February.

The price of masks has multiplied by 20 in Turkey

Not only are new companies dedicated to its manufacture are emerging, but after the detection of the coronavirus in Iran prices have skyrocketed; in some cases, in a few weeks the cost of a simple facial mask has gone from 20 liras (less than 3 euros) to 450 liras (about 66 euros), while vendors proliferate illegally selling cheaper masks but that do not offer the protection announced .

Precisely Pekcan confirmed that there have been a notable increase in complaints about an abusive increase in prices in both masks and other medical equipment, so she asked citizens to detect these cases to report them through 175 hotline for consumers.

Regarding export limitations, the minister explained that from now on companies must request a preliminary permit from the ministry to export masks to other countries. “In Turkey we have no cases (of the coronavirus), but there are new cases in countries around us, in our region,” Pekcan said.

The ultimate goal would be to have sufficient masks in case the coronavirus reaches the country, according to Pekcan. “The production of masks in Turkey can cover the national demand, but we are seeing that there is a growing international demand. We do not want to prevent exports, but we seek to prioritise local demand,” said the minister.