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Iran bans export of face masks amid demand surge in China

Iranian government has banned export of protective face masks for a three-month period amid a coronavirus outbreak in China that has led to hundreds of deaths in the country.

An official coordinating market regulation issues for the Iranian trade ministry said on Monday that his department had decided to approve a request by Iran’s health ministry to stop export of face masks amid a surge in demand for such gears in China.

“The health ministry had asked the customs office for a ban on export of … face masks for three months and we approved this request,” Abbas Qobadi told IRIB News.

However, another official told the IRNA agency that a committee at Iran’s Trade Promotion Organization would soon meet to decide on tariffs that would be imposed on exports of masks to China.

That suggested that there would be no outright ban on shipments to China which many fear could cause a shortage of the face masks in the country.

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The announcements come after reports said that businessmen from China had placed massive orders for Iranian-made respirators.

The reports, described by authorities as pure rumors, said drugstores and pharmacies in Tehran and other places had already run out of face masks.

The coronavirus outbreak has led to deaths for more than 360 people in China while thousands remain affected, including in other countries, by the deadly virus which first began in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

Iran, where no case of the disease has been confirmed yet, has already banned flights to and from China while imposing tight health restrictions on arrival of foreign nationals into the country.

The export ban for face masks comes as Iranian Red Crescent Society has declared its readiness to supply protective equipment to China amid the deadly outbreak.

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