SEOUL, Feb. 6 (Yonhap) -- Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun instructed government officials Thursday to deal sternly with illegal hoarding of face masks to fight the new virus outbreak.
Chung also stressed joint efforts by provincial governments, citizens and the medical industry to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus that has infected 23 cases in South Korea.
"Public concerns about supply and demand of face masks persist," Chung said at a pan-government meeting over responses to the virus held in the administrative city of Sejong.
He ordered government officials to "sternly" handle illegal activities as a warning to perpetrators.
The supply of face masks has far fallen short of demand mainly due to hoarding of protective goods in anticipation of higher prices.
Chung called on government agencies to consider measures to facilitate supply, distribution and sales of face masks.
As examples of increasing supply, he cited releasing public stockpiles sector onto the market and the introduction of a reporting system in case of massive sales of face masks.
Chung stressed the role of provincial governments to prevent the virus from spreading in local communities.
"It is urgent to establish thorough quarantine controls to curb inflow of the new virus from foreign countries and contain its spread here," he said.
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