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Beijing drugstore fined for hiking mask prices amid virus outbreak

BEIJING (Reuters) - A drugstore in the Chinese capital will be fined 3 million yuan ($434,530) for hiking the price of masks by almost six times the online rate amid a spreading virus outbreak, the Beijing municipal market regulator said on Wednesday.

The coronavirus outbreak, which started in the central city of Wuhan late last year, has killed 132 people, with nearly 6,000 infected in China.

An administrative penalty notice has been issued to the Beijing Jimin Kangtai Pharmacy for sharply raising the price of N95 masks, the regulator said in a statement on its website.

The store raised the price of a box of 3M brand masks to 850 yuan while the online price was just 143 yuan, state television said.

Since Thursday, the regulator has investigated 31 price violation cases, it said, as it boosted supervision of prices of protective gear and punished illegal activities, such as hoarding or fabricating information about price hikes.

In the commercial capital of Shanghai, the municipal market regulator has ordered the closure of a drug store that sold sub-standard masks, the city government said.

The regulator has asked the store to refund buyers and dispose of unsold ones, it said on its official account on the Weibo app.

Reporting by Judy Hua, Leng Cheng and Tony Munroe; Editing by Michael Perry and Clarence Fernandez

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