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The online auction website said it was banning sales of surgical masks, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes to prevent price gouging. Any listings mentioning the coronavirus or COVID-19 illness will also be removed, except for books.
“These listings may violate applicable U.S. laws or regulations, eBay policies and exhibit unfair pricing behavior for our buyers,” eBay wrote in a blog post.
EBay isn’t the only company dealing with sellers trying to take advantage of outbreak fears. Amazon warned sellers on its platform not to inflate prices for items like face masks and has removed tens-of-thousands of items from sellers accused of price gouging.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases continued to rise Friday. Worldwide, there were more than 97,000 cases and 3,300 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. There were 232 cases and 11 deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Paying a premium for hand sanitizer likely isn’t necessary. Purell maker Gojo Industries said it has added production capacity to meet the increased demand, which has so far not outpaced previous virus outbreaks.
“As part of our standard business planning, we always carefully monitor all of our sources of supply and ensure we have adequate contingency plans in place should the situation change,” a company spokesperson said. “We have also significantly increased production and are continuing to bring additional capacity online."
Recipes for homemade hand sanitizers have also been spreading online, and that could work in a pinch. Many medical professionals say old-fashioned hand-washing still works best.