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As coronavirus fears mount, Russia BANS export of masks & other vital equipment

As coronavirus fears mount, Russia BANS export of masks & other vital equipment
Entrepreneurial Russians looking to make a quick buck out of coronavirus fears are out of luck. Following concerns about stocks of medical supplies, the government has stepped in to thwart those trying to profit from the panic.

As the worldwide death toll now stands above 3,000, the Russian Ministry of Trade has temporarily prohibited the export of certain items, such as masks and protective suits, as the country seeks to keep the infection contained.

The ban, detailed on the website of the cabinet of ministers, covers a wide range of medical equipment ranging from bandages, to shoe covers, to disinfectant. The new rules will not affect supplies crossing the border for personal use or humanitarian aid, and will last until June 1. It comes on the same day that Germany introduced similar measures.

According to officials, the prohibition will "protect the interests of Russian citizens and prevent the deficiency of certain types of personal protective equipment."

Denis Manturov, Minister of Trade and Industry, clarified that this measure was taken to prevent export and would not affect the sale of medical supplies inside the country. According to Manturov, speculators are buying medical products, including masks, and are exporting them abroad to try to make a profit.

"I am told Russian factories have dramatically increased production of face masks, churning out tens of millions of them daily," Artyom Lukin from the Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok tweeted on Tuesday night. "The demand is not in Russia. Initially it was China. But China have already ramped up own production. The top importer of Russian masks is now Korea."

In February, there were reports that mask prices were increasing in line with coronavirus-induced demand. President Vladimir Putin proposed that pharmacies caught hiking up prices have their licenses revoked. This Wednesday, the Federal Antimonopoly Service revealed that from February 25 to March 2 the cost of masks decreased in 21 regions of Russia.

There is currently just one active case of Covid-19 inside Russia.

Also on rt.com 1st case of new coronavirus for Russian citizen on home soil, patient had visited Italy

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