The outbreak of the novel coronavirus (renamed COVID-19) has been marked as a global concern. In the Philippines, the President has recently declared code red because of the disease which has plagued people for months. Meanwhile, a store in Thailand is apprehended for apparently recycling their face masks and selling them as ‘new’.

The widespread fear has gotten citizens hoarding face masks, and while stocks are getting low amidst the panic, Thai police arrested retailers of a second hand goods shop in Saraburi—a province just northeast of Bangkok—when they found the workers reusing and reselling the masks.

It appears that the employees were merely placing the used masks on a washing machine, and then ironing them before they proceed to repackage the said supply. When one of the workers were questioned by The Nation, it was revealed that the shop would receive 1 baht (USD 0.03) for every mask recycled. Furthermore, they would work on around 300 to 400 masks a day.

From where do they get the used masks? The workers also admit that they receive the previously worn face masks from a dealer. Much later on, the shop owner also admitted that they have sold up to 200,000 recycled masks on Facebook (with a price of 3 baht, that’s USD 0.10 each or Php5). In the end, the authorities were able to capture sacks of masks to be re-sold to public.

Last March 4, the Thai government declared that they would take full responsibility in the circulation of face masks in the nation. They have a “Mask Management Centre” supervised by the Ministry of Commerce which they tasked for the delivery of the face masks. On this day, police also discovered 43 retailers who were overcharging their face masks.

As of February 29, Thailand has a record of one death due to the coronavirus. Currently, there are 47 infected and 31 were able to achieve recovery.

The trouble which the virus impacted the world created a way for greedy retailers to exploit what the people search for the most—one is the face mask. It is this kind of ‘taking advantage’ which citizens of any country would choose to ignore just for the sake of their wellbeing. We must be aware not only of the virus which preys on anybody, but as well as the kinds of people who prey on money.


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