The consignment owner paid for the masks at market price . DESIGN: EXPRESS/IBRAHIM YAHYA

40,000 imported surgical masks seized in Karachi

The consignment owner paid for the masks at market price

Tufail Ahmed March 03, 2020
KARACHI: Authorities have seized 40,000 surgical facemasks imported by a private firm during a raid at the Port Qasim, officials told The Express Tribune.

The raided was conducted by sensitive agencies based on a tip-off that a container shipped from abroad had a huge quantity of surgical facemasks, the officials said. The raid was authorised by the Sindh government.

The provincial government decided to purchase the consignment at market price from the private firm which officials feared was planning to sell the imported facemasks at an inflated price.

The police took the consignment into custody and later handed it over to the Provincial Health Department, which will distribute them to different state-run hospitals for the use of healthcare providers.

Coronavirus outbreak: Sindh CM orders purchase of testing kits, ventilators

Surgical facemasks have disappeared from the Karachi market after the confirmation of first novel coronavirus cases in Pakistan which set off a mask-buying frenzy by panicking public. Taking benefit of the situation, pharmacies started selling their stocks at 10 and 20 times higher prices.

On Feb 29, the drugs inspectors had confiscated another consignment of N95 category facemasks at the Port Qasim. “We have taken a shipping container into custody, which carried a total of 80,000 N95 masks,” said chief drug inspector Shoaib Ansari.

He clarified that the firm had imported the masks legally by following all rules, but the provincial government has decided to control the trade of protective masks to overcome shortages at the state-run hospitals.

The importer was paid for the consignment and no penalty or fine was imposed on the firm.


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