(Yicai Global) March 4 -- The price of handheld infrared thermometers has quintupled in China as they become an essential piece of equipment in the fight to control the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Demand skyrocketed after the government mandated that all office and factory workers must have their temperatures taken as part of the contagion's control measures. Last month alone there was a shortfall of 550,000 devices when annual output used to stand at between 200,000 and 300,000.
Previously available for under CNY100 (USD14), the thermometers are now selling for over CNY500 each. The price of key components, such as thermal chips and micro-controller units, has risen and so has the cost of labor as many workers have yet to return to the cities amid continuing travel restrictions. Chips used to be CNY5 (USD0.72) each. Now they cost CNY95.
"We need these remote-sensing thermometers in order to get back to work," said an executive from a manufacturing firm in Quanzhou, Fujian province. Without them, factories can't meet the required standards for epidemic prevention and control, he added.
The Ministry of Public Security is taking measures to prevent profiteering and is collecting information about people hoarding thermometers and their parts with the intention to sell at a high price, it said.
Local governments are also doing their best to resolve the imbalance between supply and demand by stocking up on thermometers and their key components in order to ensure that small and mid-sized firms can reopen for business as scheduled.
Editor: Kim Taylor