Society

France to prevent mask hoarding, gel price fixing as 4th person dies from coronavirus

Tourists wearing masks walk away from the Louvre as the staff closed the museum during a staff meeting about the coronavirus outbreak, in Paris, France, March 2, 2020.
Tourists wearing masks walk away from the Louvre as the staff closed the museum during a staff meeting about the coronavirus outbreak, in Paris, France, March 2, 2020. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
2 min

French authorities will requisition all face mask stocks and production in the coming months in response to the coronavirus outbreak, President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday.

Advertising

"We will distribute them to health professionals and to French people infected with the coronavirus," Macron said on Twitter.

Gel prices

Elsewhere, the French government will frame from Wednesday the price of hydro alcoholic gels to avoid the abusive increases observed in some cases in due to the strong demand linked to the spread in France of the coronavirus that appeared in China, Bruno Le Maire announced.

"There are indeed isolated cases where prices have been practiced, so it is necessary to take this into account in the decision to regulate the use of hydroalcoholic gels", a spokesman for the Minister of Economy said. “[The decision] to do so will be taken during the day. I will propose the decree to the Prime Minister in a few hours,” he said.

Fears of catching the virus have sparked a run on masks as well as sanitising hand gel in France, leading some stores and online retailers to hike prices.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said earlier Tuesday that he had ordered France's consumer and anti-fraud watchdog to open an investigation after reports that prices had doubled or even tripled.

"I'm ready to regulate prices of masks and gels by decree if the abuses are numerous," he said on Twitter. 

Fourth death

Macron's announcement came as the health ministry announced , a 92-year-old man in the Morbihan department in Brittany, one of three areas in the country where most cases have been detected.

France has confirmed 204 cases of the virus that emerged in China last December, with 11 of the 13 administrative regions of mainland France registering at least one case each.

Meanwhile, French officials have closed about 120 schools in areas that have reported the largest numbers of coronavirus infections, and more could be shuttered in the coming days, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said.

Authorities have already halted all school trips outside the country, and prohibited any gatherings of more than 5,000 people in enclosed spaces.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning