Smuggling of Covid-19 prevention products at alarming level

Taking advantage of the complicated situation of the Covid-19 pandemic, some people have sought ways to bring into Vietnam many Covid-19 prevention products of unknown origin and low quality, such as personal protective equipment, medical masks, Covid-19 treatment drugs, oxygen generators, Covid-19 test kits, hand sanitizer, and used medical gloves.
Smuggling of Covid-19 prevention products at alarming level ảnh 1 Taking samples for Covid-19 rapid testing in HCMC. (Photo: SGGP)

Detecting many violations

Over the past time, the authorities, including the police, customs, and market surveillance, have continuously detected, seized, even prosecuted, and arrested many people who have taken advantage of the pandemic to trade, transport, and smuggle medical equipment.

Recently, the Economic Police Department of the Police Department of Phu Tho Province, in collaboration with the Traffic Police Department of the Ministry of Public Security, saw a suspicious car with the plate number 24H-004.86 moving on Noi Bai - Lao Cai Highway, from Lao Cai to Hanoi, so they stopped the car to check. The police discovered more than 2,300 expiratory valve sets and more than 6,700 Covid-19 rapid test kits of unknown origin in the car trunk.

The Covid-19 pandemic control task forces No.10 and No.11 of the Hanoi City Police Department discovered Duong Van Dung, living in Thanh Hoa Province, transporting 15 boxes of medical equipment with foreign labels. The driver could not prove the origin of the above goods.

Meanwhile, on the evening of February 17, at the area of Kim Thanh International Border Gate No.2, the task force of the Border Guard Station of Lao Cai International Border Gate made an administrative inspection of the car with the plate number 21A-13021 and found two large boxes, containing 400 boxes of tablets in the car trunk. These medicine boxes were printed with foreign letters.

Through interrogating, the two people traveling in the car claimed that the above tablets were for Covid-19 treatment. They bought these medicine boxes of unknown origin in the border area and then brought them to the domestic market for consumption.

The Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department of the General Department of Vietnam Customs, in association with the Hanoi Customs Department, have recently uncovered a shipment of 85,000 Covid-19 rapid test kits, worth about VND8 billion, transported from South Korea to Vietnam via the Noi Bai International Airport.

The subjects used the trick of not declaring goods specifically and declaring the wrong names of goods to smuggle. Meanwhile, according to regulations, the Covid-19 rapid test kit is a conditional import item that requires a permit from the Ministry of Health.

Strengthening inspection at key areas

Faced with the above situation, the Ministry of Health has sent an official dispatch to the People's Committees of the provinces and cities, requesting to strengthen the fight against smuggling, commercial fraud, and counterfeit goods in the field of health. Accordingly, the Ministry of Health proposed the People's Committees of provinces, cities, and affiliated units to further strengthen the propaganda and dissemination of the legal provisions on anti-smuggling, commercial fraud, and counterfeit goods, raising awareness and sense of responsibility of officials, civil servants, public employees, and the people in participating in detecting and fighting against acts of violating the provisions of the law on prevention of smuggling, commercial fraud, and counterfeit goods.

The Ministry of Health requires its affiliated units to step up the review of licensing activities for the production, import, and trading of items, such as drugs for prevention and treatment of Covid-19, cosmetics, food, chemicals, equipment, equipment, and items for Covid-19 prevention, including protective clothing, medical gloves, and medical masks, to ensure quality while creating maximum favorable conditions for organizations, individuals, and businesses to develop production and business activities while ensuring to do well the work of fighting and preventing the acts of smuggling, commercial fraud, and the production and trading of counterfeit and poor quality goods.

It also suggested strengthening inspection in key areas prone to smuggling, trade fraud, counterfeit goods, and poor quality goods to promptly detect, rectify, and handle violations.

The Ministry of Health requested the Ministry of Information and Communications to direct agencies and units to strengthen inspection and examination of the business and advertising activities, especially on the Internet, for medical equipment products, including rapid test kits and SARS-CoV-2 virus antigen test kits of unknown origin, which are not allowed to be circulated, affecting the prevention of the Covid-19 pandemic.