Wuhan virus: Beijing drug store fined for hiking price of masks

A sign suggests to wear masks, at a drug store in Beijing on Jan 24, 2020.
A sign suggests to wear masks, at a drug store in Beijing on Jan 24, 2020.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BEIJING (REUTERS) - A drug store in Beijing will be fined three million yuan (S$590,000) for hiking the price of face masks by almost six times the online price amid the coronavirus outbreak, the Beijing municipal market regulator said on Wednesday (Jan 29).

The regulator has issued a notice of administrative penalty to Beijing Jimin Kangtai Pharmacy for sharply raising the price of N95 masks, it said in a statement on its website.

Jimin Kangtai raised the price of 3M brand masks to 850 yuan per box, while the price of the same type of masks sold online was 143 yuan per box, state television said.

The Beijing municipal regulator has stepped up supervision on prices of epidemic protective equipment and punished illegal activities such as hoarding or fabricating information about price hikes. It has investigated 31 cases of price violation since Jan 23, it said.

In the commercial capital of Shanghai, the municipal market regulator has ordered the closure of a drug store that sold sub-standard masks, the city government said. 

The regulator has asked the store to refund buyers and dispose of unsold ones, it said on its official account on the Weibo app.

The coronavirus outbreak, which started in the central city of Wuhan late last year, has killed 132 people and infected nearly 6,000 in China.