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China punishes price gougers as nerves fray over shortages

Cities put bankrupt companies back in business to make protective gear

A man in a face mask shops at a supermarket in Beijing. The Chinese government wants to prevent any shortages or price spikes that could trigger public panic.   © Reuters

SHANGHAI -- China is nervously monitoring supplies and prices of food and other daily necessities, as people return to cities from the extended Lunar New Year holiday amid the coronavirus outbreak that has strained the nation's logistics network.

The central and other governments are taking a range of measures, from fining supermarkets for raising prices to reviving defunct companies to boost supplies of protective gear. But greater economic activity risks further spreading the virus, placing Beijing in a difficult position.

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