KUALA LUMPUR, March 21 — The government will import 10 million face masks from China gradually in order to meet the domestic demand following the Covid-19 outbreak which has been increasing drastically.

Senior Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof today said that the masks will be distributed by the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) to the frontliners who has been battling to curb the spread of the infection.

“The face masks will be distributed by Nadma to those who are on the frontline such as doctors, nurses, police, army and also immigration officers,” he said in a live press conference this afternoon.

“If there is balance after distributing it to the frontliners then the mask will be distributed to pharmaceutical companies in order to be supplied to the public. Our priority is for the people on the frontline.”

Fadillah said that the government will set up a committee which consists of the Finance Ministry, Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs and Transport Ministry to fix the price mechanism of the masks when it is supplied to the public.

He said that the decision to import the mask from China was made during the National Security Council meeting yesterday, which was chaired by the Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and attended by the Cabinet Ministers as well as all the Mentri Besar and Chief Ministers from their respective state.

Separately, Fadillah also said that stern action will be taken against those who fail to declare themselves if they have close contact with a person who is tested positive of Covid-19.

He said that people must declare themselves of having close contact with Covid-19 patient when visiting the hospitals and clinics.

This, he said is necessary in order to avoid the doctors and nurses who are on duty in the health centres to be at risk of being exposed to the infection.

“Many doctors and nurses have been infected with Covid-19. Therefore, those who have close contact with a person who is positive for the infection, please inform to the hospitals or clinics when you visit them.

“If they fail to do so, they could be arrested and stern action will be taken against them,” he said.

“We don’t want the doctors and nurses who are treating the patient to be infected with Covid-19. We don’t want a situation where we are forced to close the hospitals or clinics since all the health staff are infected,” he added.

Yesterday, the Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said 12 of his ministry’s health workers and three from the private sector have been infected.

One of the ministry workers is currently in the intensive care unit requiring respiratory support.

“This virus knows no boundaries, regardless of your race, religion or wealth status, even more so if you are a healthcare worker at the frontline of this war,” he said in a Facebook post.