- Thai police raided a home north of Bangkok on Monday after receiving a tip
- Six workers were discovered recycling used face masks and reselling them
- The men would put the masks in a washing machine before ironing them flat
Thai workers have been found recycling used face masks and selling them for a profit amid growing coronavirus fears.
Police raided a house in the Saraburi province, north of Bangkok, on Monday after receiving a tip.
Six workers were discovered putting face masks in a washing machine before ironing them flat and selling them as if they were new, according to reports.
An enterprising junk shop in the Wiharn Daeng district in Saraburi, central Thailand, is being investigated after a raid found tens of thousands of recycled face masks being prepared for packing and re-selling.
According to Somsak Kaewsena, the Wiharn Daeng district chief officer, thousands of used face masks were found in washing machines, thousands more were piled up behind the shop and many more waiting to be packed.
Six men are now being questioned. Some where separating the used masks, other doing the washing and others ironing and packing the recycled masks.
The owner of the junk shop told officials that she had bought the used masks to extract the metal wire for smelting, but police suspect that she was cashing in on the current shortage in the market and panic over the coronavirus.
The Internal Trade Department is warning hoarders of face masks that they face prison terms of up to seven years and/or fines of 140,000 baht if they are caught overcharging for the masks.
The department head, Wichai Potchanakit, says the department receives a quantity of new face masks each day – 150,000 are for state hospitals, 200,000 for the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation, 25,000 for the association of drug stores, 18,000 for Thai Airways and 200,000-300,000 for the Commerce Ministry.
The masks for the Commerce Ministry are repackaged in fours, for sale at 10 baht per pack at Blue Flag shops, convenience stores and other retail outlets.