|25 March, 2020

Saudi authorities confiscate 4.3mln stockpiled medical masks

Facility where they were stored was not registered with Saudi Food and Drug Authority

Men wear protective face masks at a market after Saudi Arabia imposed a temporary lockdown on the province of Qatif following the spread of coronavirus, in Qatif, Saudi Arabia March 9, 2020. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Men wear protective face masks at a market after Saudi Arabia imposed a temporary lockdown on the province of Qatif following the spread of coronavirus, in Qatif, Saudi Arabia March 9, 2020. Image used for illustrative purpose.

REUTERS/Stringer

JEDDAH: Saudi officials seized 4,310,000 medical masks they discovered being stored at a facility in Jeddah in violation of commercial regulations.

The masks were being stockpiled with the intention of selling them. Demand is growing for such masks, which are in short supply during the coronavirus crisis.

They were found by a Ministry of Commerce team during investigations and inspections in cooperation with the Saudi Food and Drug Authority. The facility was not authorized by SFDA and had not disclosed the quantity of masks stored there, in violation of laws relating to the Commercial Register.

Video footage of the discovery was shared by the ministry on Twitter on Wednesday, and the seized masks will be redistributed to authorized commercial markets. Penalties were imposed on those responsible for the illicit hoarding, and the case also been referred to the authorities for possible legal action.

The ministry warned importers against illegally stockpiling goods with the intention of selling them later at inflated prices, and urged them to ensure that all stocks are distributed to commercial marketplaces in coordination with the authorities.

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