The coronavirus outbreak is a rising pandemic and it seems it is bringing out the worst in people as well. There is panic everywhere in the world and hoarding of facemasks and sanitizers is becoming increasingly common. However, that is not the only way in which human greed has come to the forefront as this deadly disease spreads. Some truly horrifying cases have come to light that put humanity to shame.
Capitalizing on mass fear is not unheard of but you wouldn’t have guessed what the Thai police uncovered in a raid on 2nd March, Monday. At a second-hand store near Bangkok, in a province named Saraburi, officers discovered an operation of reselling used facemasks.
6 workers were caught washing and repackaging used masks for sale. The owner of the store admitted that she had so far sold almost 200,000 such recycled masks on online platforms such as Facebook. The workers were paid up to 1 baht for every recycled mask. That is approximately $0.03 per mask. They were recycling up to 400 masks daily. The authorities suspect that the store was processing tens of thousands of facemasks by putting them in washing machines, ironing them out, and then packaging them in new boxes. The used masks were allegedly sourced through a third-party dealer. They were being resold at the price of 3 Baht or $0.10 on Facebook.
The first incident of a death caused by coronavirus was recorded on 29th February in Thailand. At the time of writing this article, there are 47 cases of infection out of which 31 have recovered. A shortage of masks and hand-sanitizers is expected as people are in a hoarding frenzy.
The Thai government announced on 4th March that they’d be overtaking the full responsibility of distributing face masks throughout the country. The Ministry of Commerce will have a ‘Mask Management Centre’ for authorized distribution of masks in the country. Before this announcement, the manufactures were only liable to supply half the quantity of their production to the government and sell the rest directly in the market. No wonder it has led to inflation.
Earlier, in February the government had listed them as price-controlled products. But despite that, up to 43 retailers were found guilty of overcharging for the product. Even then the quality is not assured as a lot of users complained of getting sub-par quality masks, which were so thin you could see through them, like this person posted on Twitter:
— ITRC 😼 (@charoenpura) March 2, 2020
The people soon came up with creative ideas to avoid this. They have started inking or slashing the facemasks before disposing of them to deter those trying to profit from this unethical practice.
Other countries too face the problem of hoarding and inflation of facemasks and hand sanitizers. People in the US are facing an all-time high prices for commodities such as hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes. The price of the former is shooting up to as much as $149 for two bottles and the latter up to $58.84 per container.
It is advisable to consult your physician and take the precautions they and the government are mentioning. Let’s not spread panic and misinformation about coronavirus.
Credit for images: CH3