KUALA LUMPUR, April 6 — The public should not take face masks and hand sanitisers from hospitals for their personal use and deprive Covid-19 frontliners of such equipment, Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said today.
“Our message is if we provide face masks or sanitisers at hospitals, it is for the use of many, not for the use of just one person. So if they take face masks or sanitisers for their own use, I feel that you have to think, it’s not you alone that uses it, but it’s for the public.
“So I advise them, don’t take our sanitisers, don’t take our gloves or our face masks in hospitals; its use is important for frontliners. The priority is for them at the frontlines,” he said in a simple plea today in the daily press conference broadcast live.
He was responding to a question on recent claims in social media that several individuals allegedly took face masks from hospitals to sell.
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a global shortage in supplies of face masks, although supplies have started to increase to the point that they are again available on the local market.
Amid the increased demand for face masks locally, some have taken advantage of the situation by engaging in scams and price gouging.
Up until April 3, the Malaysian police have recorded a total of 501 fraud cases throughout the country involving the sale of face masks, with losses of RM3.5 million reported.
As for face mask scams, police recorded a total of 556 such cases from January until April 3, with the majority or 401 of these cases involving the use of the Facebook platform.
Kuala Lumpur accounted for 64 of the 556 cases, with RM1.4 million of losses reported for these 64 cases.
Late last month, the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry (KPDNHEP) seized 223,000 pieces of three-ply surgical masks from an online seller who was hoarding them to be sold at RM3.50 — far above the controlled price of RM2 then.
The government has since reduced the ceiling price for such face masks to RM1.50 per piece.