Italian regulators are beginning to investigate
the free market price gouging online for items like hygienic masks and sanitizing gels as the novel coronavirus has started raging its way through the country.
The country has suffered the largest outbreak in Europe and has reported over 260 cases and 7 deaths, most of which are occurring in the North of the country, according to Reuters.
Milan deputy chief prosecutor Tiziana Siciliano said: “We have decided to open an investigation after media reports of the insane prices fetched up by these products (masks and gels) on online sales websites in the last two days.”
As the coronavirus continues to make its way through the country, many local shops and pharmacies have run out of masks and sanitizer gels, causing people to resort to buying the items online, where prices have (naturally) risen.
“The price of masks online has risen from one cent to 10 euros each and a one-liter bottle of disinfectant that last week was on sale for 7 euros, was up to 39 euros yesterday,” Siciliano continued.
Sales of hand sanitizers are up 9x in Italy to 900,000 packs over the first six weeks of 2020. They're expected to reach and eclipse the 1 million mark by the end of the month.
Nielsen Research Institute said on Tuesday:
“Sales of hygienic hand gels have gone through the roof. The shelves of big retailers (hypermarkets, supermarkets, cash and carry, specialist pharmacists and discounters) have been cleared out.”
Even more dystopian and frightening, police are also warning citizens that criminals may pose as health inspectors to gain access to peoples homes to steal money or other valuables.