Hong Kong customs officials have inspected almost 200 shops selling surgical masks over the past three days, checking for dishonest traders as the city is gripped by panic buying during the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak. The large-scale operation came as residents complained about the poor quality of masks bought in markets, while a few commenting online suspected some shops were selling “recycled” products. Since Monday, about 200 customs officers across the city have conducted spot checks and inspections in various districts on surgical masks, to see if the shops broke the law over trade description and consumer goods safety. Officers had inspected more than 180 retail spots, including chain stores, pharmacies, medicine stores and shops selling daily necessities, as of Wednesday. “The spot check operation focused on three aspects of surgical masks, namely false origin claims, non-compliance with consumer goods safety standards and false trademarks,” the Customs and Excise Department said in a statement on Wednesday evening, “Apart from test purchases of surgical masks for safety tests, customs has also contacted brand owners to assist in affirming the authenticity of the brands and origins.” On Wednesday, Hong Kong recorded two more cases of infections after a two-day lull, bringing the local total to 10, while on the mainland, the number of cases rose above 6,000, with more than 130 deaths. Long queues were reported at stores across Hong Kong selling masks, amid a shortfall of protective gear. But many internet users complained the shops jacked up prices, while some masks came with no standard packaging. Many residents also turned to online shopping sites for protective gear. Customs said it would also make test purchases on internet platforms to inspect products found there. “The operation is ongoing to ensure that the surgical masks being sold in the marketplace comply with the Trade Descriptions Ordinance and also the Consumer Goods Safety Ordinance. Immediate announcements will be made if any irregularities are spotted during the operation,” the statement said. Under the law, traders are not allowed to sell products with false origins or false trademarks, those that do risk five years in prison, and a HK$500,000 (US$64,000) fine.