Face mask price gougers continue to operate on Amazon.ae amid coronavirus fears

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Face masks continue to be sold in excess of 700 dirhams ($190.61) on Amazon.ae as price gougers seek to take advantage of customers looking for protection from the deadly coronavirus epidemic.

Dubai authorities officially instructed pharmacies and retail outlets not to increase their prices for face masks in January as fears of the spreading coronavirus have dramatically increased demand. Consumers are instructed by Dubai Economy to file a complaint if they find that the prices for masks have increased. When asked, one pharmacy said that a box of 20 masks normally retails for 250 dirhams.

When contacted by Al Arabiya English, Amazon.ae representatives said that sellers set the prices on the site, not Amazon itself. Further requests for information went unanswered.

“Facemasks are only warranted for healthcare professionals providing care to patients in close proximity or for people in high-risk areas… a facemask is not generally required. Indeed, the World Health Organization does not recommend that masks are used by the general public,” said Staff Physician of Infectious Diseases Dr. Ahmad Nusair at the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Medical Subspecialties Institute.

Social media users have noticed this trend, with some noting how much money there is to be made in selling face masks.

The coronavirus spread first from Wuhan, China, in late 2019, and has since infected nearly 90,000 people, with over 3,000 dead.

The first cases of coronavirus in the Middle East were recorded in UAE on January 29, 2019.

However, the virus’s spread appears to be fairly minimal in the country, which only has 21 cases to date, and no recorded deaths.

The virus instead spread across the region in late February, following an explosion of cases in Iran which then spread to nearby Bahrain, Kuwait, and Iraq.

The spread of the virus across the region has hit the economy, with Gulf stocks falling on Sunday and the aviation industry forced to cancel flights.

Saudi Arabia announced it was temporarily suspending visas for Umrah pilgrims to Mecca to prevent the spread of the virus, although the Kingdom is yet to report a confirmed case.

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