The price of face masks has significantly increased from EGP 10 per box to EGP 150 due to the coronavirus pandemic, said Medhat Zereik, General Secretary of the Medical Supplies Division at the Cairo Chamber of Commerce. He added that the American-made N95 masks, which were sold for EGP 5-6, have now increased to EGP 40-50.
Zereik told Daily News Egypt that Egyptian masks remain among the cheapest worldwide, as a box of masks costs EGP 1,000 in some countries. Prices of face masks in China have reached EGP 800-1,000, a price also found in several Arab countries. The prices are also rising exponentially in Europe.
Zereik noted that the price of masks in Egypt is still comparatively cheap compared to other countries, given that some of the supply is made in Egypt.
He attributed the price rises to the increase in the cost of raw materials according to supply and demand, where the factory that used to import the tonne of necessary raw materials at EGP 30,000 is now importing at EGP 90,000.
Zereik explained that prices have risen due to the significant increase in global demand. Every country now needs masks, and seeks to cover the demand from Egypt, Malaysia, China, and Thailand. Some countries are also no longer exporting so as to meet their own needs.
He stressed that the price of masks will drop in the coming days after the government started distributing them for free amongst citizens. Zereik added that the Ministry of Trade and Industry has decided to stop exporting for three months, while boosting the production of local factories.
He said that face masks must conform to European standards, where the material is 18 grams and must be made from specific materials to prevent the passage of water. The filter does not allow bacteria or dust to pass through, as these masks are worn by surgeons.
He noted that Egypt’s mask production covers 40% of the country’s needs, but it has been increased to cover the local needs as well as exports. He noted that the Egyptian government has sent masks to China.
Egypt has been exporting face masks previous to the coronavirus outbreak, with four mask-producing factories currently registered in the country, Zeriek said. He added that several other factories looking to produce face masks are currently undergoing the registration process.