Coronavirus outbreak: Beijing drugstore fined for hiking mask prices
Nearly 6,000 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in China and nearly 60 million people are under partial or full lockdowns in Chinese cities.
A drugstore in the Chinese capital will be fined 3 million yuan ($434,530) for hiking the price of masks by almost six times the online rate amid a spreading virus outbreak that has so far claimed over 130 lives, the Beijing municipal market regulator said on Wednesday.
The coronavirus outbreak started in the central city of Wuhan late last year. Nearly 6,000 cases have been confirmed in China and nearly 60 million people are under partial or full lockdowns in Chinese cities.
An administrative penalty notice has been issued to the Beijing Jimin Kangtai Pharmacy for sharply raising the price of N95 masks, the regulator said in a statement on its website.
The store raised the price of a box of 3M brand masks to 850 yuan while the online price was just 143 yuan, state television said.
Since Thursday, the regulator has investigated 31 price violation cases, it said, as it boosted supervision of prices of protective gear and punished illegal activities, such as hoarding or fabricating information about price hikes.
In the commercial capital of Shanghai, the municipal market regulator has ordered the closure of a drug store that sold sub-standard masks, the city government said.
The regulator has asked the store to refund buyers and dispose of unsold ones, it said on its official account on the Weibo app.
Hundreds of foreign nationals have been evacuated from Wuhan. Australia plans to quarantine its 600 returning citizens for two weeks on Christmas Island - some 2,000km from the mainland.
Japan, the US and the EU are also repatriating their citizens. South Korea said some 700 of its citizens would leave on four flights this week.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong announced plans to slash cross-border travel between the city and mainland China.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has called the virus a "devil" but said China would defeat it.
An expert from the Chinese National Health Commission (NHC) said it could take 10 more days for the outbreak to peak.