KUALA LUMPUR, March 20 ― Putrajaya has stopped all exports of surgical masks and increased the ceiling price for the three-ply variant.

The move comes amid a shortage in face masks in the country as the Covid-19 virus continues to spread.

The new price for a three-ply face mask is now RM2 per unit, up from 80 cents previously.

Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Alexander Nanta Linggi, who announced this, said the increase was due to a higher production costs now.

He also said the government was still allowing imports to ensure sufficient supply.

“By allowing face masks to be sold at RM2, we hope to encourage local manufacturers to produce more. For exporters, this price will help cover the costs to bring the product into the market.

“With this, we hope to increase the availability of face masks,” Nanta was quoted saying in The Star after jointly chairing a meeting with Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Datuk Ronald Kiandee to discuss with stakeholders in the food production and retail industries.

Meanwhile, the price for one-ply earloop face masks, two-ply earloop face masks, and N95 face masks, remain the same.

The price of one-ply face masks is RM0.15 per unit, or RM7 per box; two-ply face masks is RM0.20 per unit, or RM10 per box; and N95 masks is RM6 per unit.

Malaysia has now recorded 900 positive Covid-19 cases with two deaths.