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S. Korea to extend crackdown on mask hoarders to Sept. amid prolonged pandemic

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

South Korea said Monday it will extend tough measures against face mask hoarders through September as sporadic cluster infections continued to haunt the country.

The country adopted crackdown measures on mask hoarders in February that center on punishment with a jail term of up to two years or fines of up to 50 million won ($41,715). The measures were scheduled to end this month.

The order bans any "act of cornering and hoarding" of sanitary items and is applied both to producers and sellers, according to the finance ministry.

"We have decided to extend the deadline, considering that the new coronavirus pandemic has not yet ended and that any market-violating actions can happen anytime," the ministry said in a statement.

South Koreans formed long lines at pharmacies and supermarkets during the peak of the pandemic between late February and early March to purchase face masks, with the products' prices also skyrocketing on online sales platforms.

The country accordingly introduced a rationing scheme for protective masks, which allowed people to purchase two masks on designated days. This, however, was later partially lifted in sync with the country's efforts to beef up the supply, with people being allowed to buy 10 masks a week starting in mid-June.

The country reported its first COVID-19 patient on Jan. 20.

On Monday, South Korea added new 42 cases, including 30 local infections, raising the total caseload to 12,757. (Yonhap)
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