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S. Korea to control supply of masks, hand sanitizers

Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki speaks at a meeting with government officials to counter the fast-spreading coronavirus on Friday in Seoul. (Yonhap)
Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki speaks at a meeting with government officials to counter the fast-spreading coronavirus on Friday in Seoul. (Yonhap)



Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said on Friday that the ministry will implement measures to control the supply and distribution of masks and hand sanitizers next week, warning that the government would impose harsh penalties on those hoarding the products.

“The government will take stricter measures to prevent illegal activities that could risk the public health and stoke concerns among the people,” said the finance minister, who chaired a meeting with officials at the ministry on the day.

The supply-demand control measures will require local producers of masks and hand sanitizers to report their daily production volumes as well as their shipments here and overseas to the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety. Sellers also have to notify the drug safety ministry of bulk sales.

The regulations, which will be finalized after discussions among the government’s ministries and agencies, come as demand for such products has grown exponentially amid the spread of the new strain of coronavirus. Some domestic and Chinese merchants have been reportedly hoarding the products in Korea, causing shortage. The Korean government has also sent 1.5 million masks to help efforts in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic.

On Friday, the Korean government confirmed its 24th case of novel coronavirus infection.

By Kim Young-won (wone0102@heraldcorp.com)
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