'The new gold': Thieves steal thousands of surgical masks from hospital in Japan

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Feb 18, 2020, 08:55 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

According to a report, the thieves stole 6,000 surgical face masks from the Japanese Red Cross hospital which were locked in a storage facility.

Thieves in Japan stole thousands of surgical face masks from a hospital amid coronavirus outbreak. As the country is already facing a shortage of face masks, the authorities suspect that thieves intend to resell the masks in black. 

Amid the global coronavirus outbreak which has killed over 1,800 people in China, the epicentre of the deadly virus, masks have sold out at many stores across the nation. In the online market as well, the masks are being sold on a very high price.

Also read: Coronavirus cases top 500 on cruise ship off Japan

According to a report, the thieves stole 6,000 surgical face masks from the Japanese Red Cross hospital which were locked in a storage facility.

"We still have a large number of masks -- enough to continue our daily operations at the hospital, but this is so deplorable," news agency AFP quoted a hospital official as saying.

Police have also launched an investigation into the matter. 

Also read: Coronavirus outbreak - Fresh events spark another round of bioweapon theory

Public anxiety has been also fuelled by headlines of hundreds of people infected with the virus onboard a ship quarantined off Japan.

The theft came after knife-wielding men jumped a delivery driver and stole hundreds of toilet rolls on Monday in Hong Kong, where the coronavirus outbreak has fuelled a run on face masks, hand sanitiser and toilet paper.

Japanese flea market app Mercari called on its users to trade masks "within socially accepted limits" after a box of 65 masks was priced at more than 50,000 yen ($456) at its online marketplace.

The Japanese government has "strongly requested" mask makers to boost output, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters last week.

There has been a shortage of masks at drug stores in the hygiene-conscious nation where face masks have been part of everyday streetwear for decades.

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