Egypt will extend a ban on exporting face masks and infection prevention supplies for a further three months, the trade and industry ministry said on Wednesday, in a bid aimed to prevent shortages amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The country first imposed a three-month ban in March, which was due to expire this week.
The new decision is aimed to “provide the needs of Egyptian citizens and medical institutions for these products” in light of precautionary measures put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the ministry said.
The government will, however, be allowed to export surplus quantities that exceed domestic needs, based on assessment by the country’s medical supply authority in coordination with the ministry, it said in a statement.
Wednesday’s decision will come in effect as of the date of its publishing in the country’s official gazette, the ministry added.
Egypt has made wearing facemasks in public mandatory since 30 May, with violators facing fines of up to EGP 4,000 ($247).
Since the outbreak of the global pandemic, Egypt has sent millions of face masks in planes filled with medical aid to other countries to help them through the crisis, including Italy, China, the United States, and several African countries.
The government said on Tuesday it would start offering 40 million reusable cloth face masks for sale via subsidy cards at a price of EGP 6 each starting July 1.