A new law, implemented by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, bans the export of medical masks without special authorization.
Rabat – Moroccan authorities arrested two British men for attempting to smuggle thousands of face masks out of the country on March 3, reported UK newspaper the Metro.
The first arrest concerned a British truck driver attempting to transport 100,000 masks to his home country through the Tangier-Med Port. The driver failed to declare the masks to customs officials.
The Metro estimated the value of the masks at $3.4 million given their shortage in Britain amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
At the time of writing, the UK has recorded 116 cases of the virus and one death.
Meanwhile, the second arrest occurred at the Agadir International Airport after authorities found 17,000 medical masks in a British man’s luggage.
The suspect bought the masks from pharmacies across Agadir and hoped to resell them for higher prices once in the UK.
Authorities discovered the suspect had an extensive criminal record for smuggling contraband goods.
The arrests came one day after the Moroccan Ministry of Industry and Trade banned exporting medical protective masks without special authorization.
The move aims to ensure the availability of a sufficient supply of medical masks in Morocco as COVID-19 spreads globally.
On the same day, Head of Government Saadeddine El Othmani and Minister of Health Khalid Ait Taleb announced that the government has a stock of 12 million medical masks.
The Ministry of Health will also purchase all national production of medical masks to increase its stock.
While fear from the novel coronavirus is pushing Moroccans to procure medical masks, the minister of health is advising against using them without medical consultation.
Morocco has confirmed two cases of COVID-19: A man and a woman who separately traveled to Morocco from Italy, a country with nearly 4,000 confirmed cases.
The man’s condition is improving. However, the woman is in critical condition due to her old age and preexisting chronic illness.
In his most recent public statement, on Friday, March 6, the minister of health assured that the current situation in Morocco “remains under control.”