‘The coronavirus has hit Italy. As of today, the country has confirmed at least 325 cases and 11 deaths already. The large majority of these are in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto. In response, Italian authorities have put several northern cities on lockdown, effectively quarantining around 100,000 people. The Venice Carnival was terminated early and many flights have been suspended. Top division football matches have been canceled, as has Italy’s Six Nations rugby match. Other buildings and events where large numbers of people congregate, such as museums, have also been shut down until further notice.
But in crisis there is opportunity. Following the dictates of supply and demand, vendors on Amazon have increased the price of simple hand sanitizer to over €30 for ($33) for an 80ml (2.8 oz.) bottle, capitalizing on the fear and concern of locals. The basic gel soap usually sells for a tiny fraction of that sum, but the uncontrolled escalation in price now makes the liquid more expensive than the finest single malt whiskeys and all but the most expensive perfumes.
Government officials are probing the price increases of other products too, some of which have seen rises of up to 10,000 percent. Milan deputy chief prosecutor Tiziana Siciliano said that “The price of masks online has risen from one cent to 10 euros each and a one-liter bottle of disinfectant that last week was on sale for 7 euros, was up to 39 euros yesterday.”