Indonesia bans exports of hand sanitiser, masks to tackle shortage

A volunteer sprays disinfectant in the wake of coronavirus outbreak at a public area in Jakarta. (AP pic)

JAKARTA: Indonesia banned exports of masks, sanitisers and some medical equipment to shore up domestic supplies amid a surge in new cases of coronavirus infection.

Shipments of face masks, its raw materials, antiseptics and protective gears such as surgery clothing are banned until June 30, the Trade Ministry said in a statement Wednesday.

Exporters who fail to comply will be penalised, it said.

The export curbs come a day after authorities in the world’s fourth-most populous nation decided to ration staples such as rice, cooking oils, sugar and instant noodles to prevent panic buying and hoarding.

Indonesia, which didn’t report a single infection until the first week of March, has seen a spike in coronavirus cases in the last few days.

More than 170 people have tested positive for Covid-19 with fatalities reaching seven as of Tuesday, according to the health ministry.