The government on Tuesday warned importers against profiteering on surgical masks, gloves and hand sanitisers amid shortage due to coronavirus outbreak in the country. 

Manufacturers and importers have been asked to provide the details of cost, sales and profit within 24 hours. 

The companies have been warned of fines and legal action if they do not comply with the order. 

The step has been taken to dissuade companies from profiteering on essential items during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

This comes as the number of positive cases in the country rose to 137 on Tuesday, including 3 deaths. Most number of cases, 41, have been reported from Maharashtra. 

Earlier last week, the government had invoked the Essential Commodities Act and the Disaster Management Act to regulate the production and price of masks, hand sanitisers as these items were being sold at high prices due to shortage amid novel coronavirus outbreak. 

Masks, including N95, and hand sanitisers were declared as ‘essential commodities’ under the Essential Commodities Act to stop shortages and black marketing of these items.

The coronavirus scare has led to a shortage and black marketing of masks and hand sanitisers with stores selling them at exorbitant prices.

These items will remain under essential commodities segment till June-end, a move aimed at ensuring availability at reasonable prices and cracking down on hoarders and black marketeers, the government said. 

The government has notified an Order under the Essential Commodities Act to declare these items as “Essential Commodities” up to June 30, 2020 by amending the Schedule of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955. 

The law empowers the Centre as well as states to ask manufacturers to enhance production, quality, distributions of masks and hand sanitisers.

The government also invoked the Disaster Management Act to ensure prices regulation and availability of masks, hand sanitisers and gloves.

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