Coronavirus: French police seize 140,000 black market masks


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Government requisitioned all stocks of masks

French police claim to have seized 140,000 masks for sale on the black market.

Officers say they caught a businessman unloading masks from a truck in a house in St Denis, north of Paris.

Last month, France requisitioned all stocks and the production of face masks to equip health workers.

Meanwhile, in China, authorities confiscated 89 million poor-quality masks. The country has been criticized for its poor quality exports.

Officials inspected nearly 16 million businesses and also seized large quantities of ineffective disinfectants, said government official Gan Lin.

And in Germany, medical wholesalers say they are almost out of masks. From Monday, it will be mandatory for people to cover their faces in stores and on public transport in the country.

What happened in St Denis?

Mask prices online and in French stores had tripled before all stocks were requisitioned.

The masks seized included 5,000 high specification masks (FFP2) for use with patients with coronavirus. About a third were surgical masks.

The suspects included a 60-year-old man, apparently the seller who purchased the masks for € 0.50 ($ 0.54; £ 0.44) each in the Netherlands. He sold them between 0.55 and 0.60 €, reported the newspaper Le Parisien.

The seller appears to have a list of customers, including business owners, the newspaper said.

A second suspect was a 46-year-old man who was about to buy part of the stock for resale.

There have been several seizures of masks in the Paris region since the start of the pandemic, including 29,000 masks found in Aubervilliers and 32,000 masks seized in Saint-Ouen, both north of Paris.

The country has seen 160,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 22,600 deaths.

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What is China doing?

The massive seizure of masks in this country comes after several countries, including Spain, the Netherlands and Turkey, had to recall hundreds of thousands of poor quality imported items.

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Chinese authorities set new quality standards for mask exports

In the first two months of the year, nearly 9,000 new manufacturers began producing masks in China, the commercial data platform Tianyancha reported.

On Saturday, China released new rules stating that exported protective equipment must meet international standards.

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How is Germany preparing to wear a mask?

The country’s third largest supplier, Gehe from Stuttgart, said demand exceeded supply despite storage in anticipation of the new measures.

Many German states have stressed that a scarf on the nose and mouth would be acceptable.

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Media captionCoronavirus: health claims debunked

Other countries, including the United Kingdom, have been reluctant to order people to cover their faces in public, in part for fear of emptying hospital supplies.

In the United States, members of the public have been advised to use a clean cloth or cloth to cover their faces in public. Officials stressed that medical masks are rare and should be left to healthcare workers.

The Czech Republic also urged people to make their own cloth masks when it was mandatory several weeks ago to wear one in public.

Researchers say a non-medical mask can help protect others from an infected carrier, but won’t do much to keep the virus away.


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