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S. Korea allows export of all protective face masks

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 7, 2020: A woman in a medical mask walks past a sign reading "I Love Seoul" in Gwanghwamun Square. The Chinese authorities registered an outbreak of the 2019-nCoV coronavirus in Wuhan in December 2019. Stanislav Varivoda/TASS. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

SEOUL, Sep 15, 2020, Yonhap. South Korea allowed the export of all types of face masks that can be used to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus on Tuesday amid sufficient domestic supply, the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) said, The Korea Herald reported.

The move comes as supplies of surgical and anti-droplet masks in the country have stabilized.

Seoul had banned mask exports as it experienced acute shortages amid a spike in COVID-19 cases earlier in the year, although it did authorize half of the medical masks made in the country to be shipped abroad from May.

The KFDA said that for the seven days starting on Sept. 7, the country produced 273.1 million masks, which is enough to meet local needs.

It said a rise in supply of all types of masks has caused prices for high-protection KF-94 medical masks to fall to 1,149 won ($0.97) as of Thursday from 1,216 won a month earlier.

The government said that while exports of all masks will be allowed, outbound shipment quotas will be set for each manufacturer starting Tuesday to guard against sudden shortages. Exports cannot exceed 50 percent of masks produced by companies in a two-month period.

“The changes are expected to permit market mechanisms to take effect that can end excessive inventory issues faced by some manufacturers due to a drop in sales and make it possible for companies here to export their products to countries that are in need of South Korean-made masks,” a KFDA official said.

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