South Korea suspends exports of face masks, places new limits for pricing and purchasing

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SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 28: People wearing masks to prevent the coronavirus (COVID-19) buy face masks at a department store on February 28, 2020 in Seoul, South Korea. Government has raised the coronavirus alert to the "highest level" as confirmed case numbers keep rising. Government reported 571 new cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) bringing the total number of infections in the nation to 2,337 with the potentially fatal illness spreading fast across the country. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

South Korea has reportedly recorded more than 5,700 cases of the virus and 35 deaths. In the effort of providing adequate support for her citizens, the government of South Korea has said Face masks produced in South Korea will no longer be exported abroad as of tomorrow, according to the country’s vice finance minister. The government will also reward anyone who reports on illegal business transactions of mask sales

This move comes amid the largest coronavirus outbreak outside China, and after much public criticism of the government for severe shortages of face masks, resulting in citizens waiting long hours at designated locations to purchase them in limited numbers.

The government had previously restricted the export of face masks, allowing up to 10% of those produced to be exported until April 30.

The country hopes to increase its daily mask output from 10 million to at least 13 million, authorities said and the products would be distributed mainly to pharmacies, post offices, and government locations for citizens to purchase.

Starting from Monday, each citizen can purchase up to two masks per week. The government will monitor sales through a computerized system, to prevent people from buying more than their share.

The government will also designate certain days of the week for citizens to purchase masks after presenting their identification cards, to avoid big crowds of shoppers.

The finance ministry further released statement on the price, as the finance ministry will also price all masks distributed by the government at $1.27 (1,500 Korean won), and it may set a maximum price limit for private sellers.

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