Amazon has been forced to remove a number face masks from its site after sellers wrongly advertised them as offering protection against the deadly coronavirus.
A Yahoo News UK investigation flagged a number of products on Amazon’s marketplace which implied they could prevent the user from catching the virus, despite authorities stating there is “little evidence of (the) widespread benefit” of the masks.
This included a £210 product which was advertised as “coronavirus safe” and another which mentioned both “coronavirus” and “SARS” in the title which was the bestselling product in Amazon’s health and personal care sector.
Amazon took down to product listings within 24 hours after being flagged by the publication, while the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it had since launched an investigation into one of the third-party sellers.
“Following an enquiry on the products (sent by Yahoo News UK)… I can confirm that we are going to initiate an investigation against one of the third party sellers over whether they have breached our social responsibility advertising rules,” an ASA spokesperson said.
Amazon also responded to the report stating: “We work hard to build a great experience for our customers and sellers and take action to protect them from those that threaten their experience in our store,” an Amazon spokesperson said.
“We have systems and processes to detect suspicious behaviour and we have teams that investigate and take action quickly.”
While many have begun wearing the facemasks as a precaution against the virus, which has now infected over 30,000 people and killed more than 600, health professionals have cast doubt over their efficacy.
Head of emerging infections at Public Health England Dr Jake Dunning said: “People concerned about the transmission of infectious diseases should prioritise good personal, respiratory and hand hygiene.
“There is very little evidence of widespread benefit from their (face mask) use outside of these clinical settings.”
The virus is also not generally spread through the air by individual particles, rather aerosols of spit, snot and sputum containing large quantities of the virus spread infection.