Over the past few months, the whole world has been worried about the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Every day, people are at risk of contracting the virus, so the World Health Organization (WHO) constantly reminds citizens to wear a face mask if they exhibit symptoms of the virus.
Because everyone is frantic to protect themselves from the disease, there is now a shortage of face mask stocks worldwide. With this, some are getting risky with their ways of protection.
On March 2, 2020, Thai police raided a shop that was recycling and reselling used face masks. According to The Nation Thailand, they found six workers in the second-hand shop, located in Saraburi, sorting out and ironing the worn masks before putting them in boxes to look like new, unused ones. Authorities also found a large washing machine in the scene, which was being used to "clean" the masks.
One of the workers told Wihandaeng district chief officer Somsak Kaewasna that “they got paid [sic] THB1 (roughly P1.63) per piece, while they recycled around 300 to 400 masks per day, per person.”
These masks were being sold at a second hand shop that buys and sells used goods, such as steel, plastic, and aluminum. When questioned, the shop owner, Jintana Manwichai, confessed that she “had sold up to 200,000 pieces of recycled masks at the price of three baht each on Facebook.”
A report on Khaosod English stated that the owner, together with her two accomplices “were charged with selling falsely labeled commodities.” It hasn’t been determined how many recycled masks were resold in the second-hand shop, but around tens of thousands used masks were found at the scene.
On March 4, 2020, the Thai government announced that they would take full control of disseminating face masks in the country—with a “Mask Management Centre” under the Ministry of Commerce put in charge of the distribution.
Here in the Philippines, there is a total of 10 confirmed COVID-19 cases. The Department of Health (DOH) has also raised its alert level to code red because the disease’s local transmission was recently confirmed.
**Conversion Rate Used: THB1 = P1.63 (rounded up average of exchange rates for the last three months according to ofx.com)
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