EDIRNE, Turkey

Turkish customs officers on Tuesday seized 573,750 medical masks in a truck bound for Europe.

The truck was stopped at the Kapikule border crossing with Bulgaria.

Customs officers seized masks valued at 8.8 million Turkish liras ($1.25 million) hidden inside hundreds of packages.

The truck driver said he was carrying mattresses and second-hand household goods.

Two people were arrested over smuggling.

The demand for masks has risen world over in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Health experts say wearing masks in public spaces protects people from contracting the virus.

After originating in China last December, COVID-19 has spread to at least 187 countries and regions. Europe and the US are currently the worst-hit regions.

*Writing by Handan Kazanci

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