Canadians dealing with price gouging on face masks and hand sanitizer

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Frightened Canadians looking to avoid catching COVID-19 by using face masks and antibacterial hand sanitizers are being squeezed for more cash as store shelves empty.

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Third-party online sellers have reportedly jacked up the prices on products people believe will help them avoid getting sick, as jugs of sanitizer and masks are being sold for hundreds of dollars.

In one of the most egregious examples of price gouging, Walmart Canada is selling a two-litre bottle of Purell sanitizer for more than $268. But that’s reduced from the original listed price of $337.81.

Walmart Canada told CTV News that items are often sold by a third party on the company’s website. Walmart receives a percentage of the sale of these items, which are only available online.

Other sanitizers being sold on the Walmart site seem in line with normal pricing — a 591 ml bottle of Purell hand sanitizer with aloe is listed at $9.47.

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Amazon doesn’t seem immune to coronavirus gouging, either.

Disposable face masks, in packages of 100, are being sold for more than $100 on A five-pack of N95 masks, believed to be more effective for preventing coronavirus, can be bought for $250. But another vendor is selling a box of 20 N95 masks for $110.

CTV News also listed a four-pack of hand sanitizer being sold for $140 on but each bottle contains 1.2 litres of product.

Earlier this week, Reuters reported that Italian authorities are looking into the skyrocketing prices of masks and sanitizing gels. Italy is becoming one of the hardest-hit countries outside China, the epicentre of the virus.

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And in Hong Kong, people have set up a surgical mask factory to help prevent price gouging.

The World Health Organization has already indicated that face masks are ineffective against the spread of the coronavirus. Studies show washing your hands with soap is the best way to kill viruses, rendering sanitizer moot.

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