Suspected rumor spreaders identified amid panic buying

Taipei (CNA) At least six individuals and a company suspected of spreading rumors of imminent shortages of certain basic commodities have been identified, the Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau (MJIB) said Sunday amid panic buying due to the Wuhan virus.

Two of the suspects, surnamed Lin (?) and Huang (?), claimed on the Internet that toilet tissue will soon be out of stock, since the raw materials for their manufacture have been diverted to the production of face masks, the MJIB said.

Several others, identified by their surnames of Tan (?), Li (?), Chao (?) and Tsai (?), are also responsible for spreading rumors that diapers will soon run out, the MJIB said.

At the same time, a trading company was found on social media to be urging the public to stockpile toilet tissue and sanitary napkins, claiming that ships transporting raw materials for their production have been barred from entering ports and that air freight will also be suspended soon, the bureau said.

Other similar rumors that are being traced by the MJIB as false information have been going viral on the web over the past few days, sparking panic buying in supermarkets and retail outlets.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) clarified two days earlier that toilet tissue and face masks are made from different materials and do not compete for raw materials, with the same going for diapers and sanitary napkins.

In view of this, Premier Su Tseng chang (???) has urged the public to stop panic buying.

He also warned unscrupulous traders to stop forcing up prices for basic commodities or face punishment of up to three years in prison and a fine of no more than NT$300,000 (US$9,876).

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel