British men arrested in Morocco for attempting to smuggle 100,000 face masks

British men arrested in Morocco for attempting to smuggle 100,000 face masks
In one incident, a lorry driver attempted to smuggle 77,000 face masks, before customs officials discovered the items in a cargo port east of Tangier.
2 min read
05 March, 2020
One of the men intended to sell the masks for £26 each [Getty]
Two British men were arrested in Morocco on Tuesday for smuggling thousands of face masks out of the country, the day before the UK recorded its first death from coronavirus, the UK newspaper The Metro reported.

While there has been no comment from Moroccan authorities, in one incident a lorry driver attempted to transport 100,000 masks to the UK to sell for £26 (34 US dollars) each, amid shortages due to fears of a major outbreak.

The driver was held in the Port of Tangier-Med, a cargo port 40 km east of Tangier, after failing to declare the masks to customs officials, according to the Moroccan website

The value of the masks seized was estimated at US$34 million and the driver is currently reported to be in police custody.

In another incident, a British man was arrested at Agadir Airport when he was found attempting to smuggle 17,000 face masks bought at several pharmacies in the North African kingdom.

He was held in custody after it was discovered he had an extensive criminal record relating to smuggling contraband goods.

The arrests come as the Moroccan health ministry recorded the country's second case of the novel coronavirus on Wednesday - a woman who returned from Italy the same day. 

"The infected woman is currently subject to quarantine at a hospital in Casablanca," the ministry said, adding that the hospital will look after the patient according to approved health standards.

The World Health Organization, which declared the outbreak an international health emergency, recently updated the global risk assessment to “very high."

It has also advised the public to wash their hands more than usual and to delay or avoid travel to affected areas.

Common signs of the infection include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

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