Story By: John Feng, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Asia Wire Report
A Chinese couple have been arrested for allegedly peddling nearly 10 tonnes of disinfectant diluted with ordinary tap water so they could make more money amid the panic about the coronavirus.
Authorities in the district of Fuling, which is in China’s south-western municipality of Chongqing, announced the arrest of husband and wife suspects Mr Hu and Ms Chen, 43 and 37, on 10th March.
The couple, who were detained along with five other suspects, were found to be running seven sales points where they illegally repackaged and sold brand-name disinfectant.
Local police seized more than 1,800 drums – or 9.4 tonnes – of inferior ‘84’ disinfectant products.
In China, surface disinfectants used anywhere from households to hospitals are labelled ‘84’ as a reference to the first such products developed by experts in Beijing in 1984.
The virus-killing liquid was made in response to the 1983 Shanghai hepatitis A epidemic.
According to Fuling District police, Mr Hu and Ms Chen purchased large quantities of brand-name disinfectant and then diluted their contents with tap water before repacking them into smaller bottles with new labels.
The couple “undermined market standards” by taking advantage of desperate buyers during a period of critical shortage in supplies such as surgical masks and disinfectant, the police said.
Selling both online and to acquaintances, the unlicensed vendors are believed to have made a profit in excess of 400,000 RMB (44,500 GBP).
The shoddy disinfectant put lives at risk, as it is not effective in killing pathogens such as the one which causes COVID-19, the police reported.
The couple are expected to be formally charged, but their punishment is to be postponed as a result of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
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