People cover their faces with masks during the sandstorm in Sharjah Image Credit: Atiq ur Rehman/Gulf News

Dubai: Authorities in Dubai have warned the pharmacies that action will be taken if they try to increase prices for face masks.

The warning came after Gulf News reported on Wednesday the shortage of face masks at the pharmacies leading to price hike.

Most pharmacies in Dubai and elsewhere in the UAE have run out of protective face masks, especially the high quality N-95 mask.

The Dubai Economic Department (Dubai Economy) has taken immediate notice of the situation and issued a warning via its twitter account on Thursday morning. “DED instructs pharmacies and medical supply businesses not to increase masks prices,” said a tweet by the DED.

“DED resolved a business complaint by obligating a pharmacy to supply masks with its original price,” says another tweet. The DED asks consumers to file complaints if they find mask prices increased.

Gulf News contacted several pharmacies to buy face masks but most of them said that they have run out of supplies. The specialised anti-viral filter mask N-95 has completely sold out, confirmed pharmacists.

Exploiting the situation, the online shopping stores have started promoting the sale of masks with exorbitant prices. An N-95 protective mask, which costs at a pharmacy between Dh150 to 180 (for a box of 20 pieces), is being sold online ranging from Dh150 to Dh599 (per piece). However, even online stores are not allowing the customers to buy in bulk limiting the sale to only one box per order.

The complaints can be registered at the Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection Sector in Dubai Economy by calling toll free number 600 545555.