Corona-virus panic sees masks being sold at record high prices

“Some sellers are selling welding masks and construction-grade facemasks (used for working in dusty conditions during demolition), but these are not for medical use.”

Face Mask
Face Mask. Image source: NPR

While there haven’t been any reported cases of the Corona-virus in South Africa, entrepreneurial locals are already selling masks and “survival kits” online at higher than average prices.

According to Gumtree SA Marketing Manager Estelle Nagel, the surgical masks sell for between R6 – R13,00 each on the site, but prices will go up even further. “In other markets, these masks are being sold at 600% mark-ups.”

Nagel says the site is removing adverts purporting to 100% prevent Corona-virus infections and similar claims.

“Some sellers are selling welding masks and construction-grade facemasks (used for working in dusty conditions during demolition), but these are not for medical use.”

Gumtree’s parent company eBay has already removed 20,000 adverts related to the virus and is taking steps to prevent price inflation.

The American surgeon general has also urged the public to stop buying bulk masks as they are generally ineffective and might trigger a serious shortage of these masks in hospitals and clinics where they are used regularly.

He also advised worried members of the public to wash their hands and avoid touching their faces as a best defense against contracting the virus.

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