A SUPERMARKET shelf with organic products such as noodles, floor and sieved tomatoes is partly empty and not yet refilled on Monday due to coronavirus-related panic buyings over the weekend. — REUTERS/WOLFGANG RATTAY

THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) announced a nationwide price freeze on basic goods after the country was placed under a state of public health emergency amid a novel coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement, the agency said the price freeze will be effective for 60 days, except household liquefied petroleum gas and kerosene, whose prices will be frozen for 15 days.

The Price Act allows the government to freeze the prices of basic goods to be frozen for 60 days or until lifted by the President when there is a declaration of a state of emergency or calamity.

Basic goods include canned fish and other marine products, locally manufactured instant noodles, bottled water, bread, processed milk, coffee, candles, laundry soap, detergent and salt.

“The DTI is closely coordinating with other government agencies, manufacturers and retailers of basic goods to ensure availability and continuous supply in the market,” Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said.

“Retailers are reminded that there should be no price movements on these goods while the price freeze is in effect,” he added.

Also covered by the price freeze are basic agricultural products such as rice, corn, cooking oil, fresh, dried and other marine products, eggs, pork, beef and poultry meat, fresh milk, vegetables, root crops, sugar and fresh fruits.

Prices of essential drugs, firewood and charcoal will also be frozen.

Trade Undersecretary Ruth B. Castelo said the department continues to monitor the prices of basic goods, as well as N-95 and N-88 face masks.

Violators will be fined P5,000 to P1 million or imprisoned for up to 10 years.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte announced the public health emergency on Sunday. — Jenina P. Ibañez