The Ministry of Health has stated that Laos is to import face masks from neighboring countries, including Vietnam, China, and Thailand amid a national shortage.
Two million face masks will be imported to Laos very soon, according to Lao Minister of Health, Dr. Bounkong Syhavong, as quoted by the Vientiane Times.
Masks will be distributed among patients in hospitals first to control the spread of illnesses to others, and then a further 500,000 masks will be sold to the public.
Laos has reached an agreement with Vietnam for the importation of face masks, despite Vietnam temporarily suspending the export of masks after facing high demand in their own country.
A Vietnamese man was recently arrested at the border attempting to smuggle 30,000 face masks into Laos from Vietnam.
The sale of face masks in Laos has increased tenfold because of public concern over coronavirus infections in neighboring countries.
The Ministry of Industry and Commerce issued a notice last month prohibiting the sale of face masks at prices higher than LAK 25,000 kip for a box of 50 masks, or LAK 1,000 per mask at retail sale.
However, masks are all but unavailable in shops consumers have said some are sold online at prices exceeding LAK 200,000 per box of 50 units.
Officials from the Goods and Price Management Division, under the Food and Drugs Department of the Ministry of Health, undertake routine checks at pharmacies to ensure pricing remains at ordinary levels.
Consumers are urged to report the sale of masks at inflated prices.
Meanwhile, Laos-based company Phongsabthavy Construction chartered a Boeing 737-800 plane of China Eastern (Flight MU 9005) to transport over a million dollars worth of medical supplies, including 200,000 N95 masks and 800,000 surgical masks, to Wuhan, China, last week.