CORONAVIRUS/Government to continue requisitioning masks until year-end: CECC

06/30/2020 09:56 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, June 30 (CNA) The Taiwan government will maintain its program to requisition surgical face masks until the end of the year to ensure a stockpile to meet domestic needs, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Tuesday.

The decision was made at a CECC meeting Monday, CECC spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said, noting that the requisition program was previously set to expire at the end of June.

Currently, the government requisitions 8 million surgical masks per day, while the daily output is around 20 million, with 8 million going to the government requisition program, and the remainder sold on the open market.

Domestic demand is around 8.39 million masks per day, and the stockpile is 130 million, Chuang said, adding that if necessary, the government will requisition 12 million per day.

When the COVID-19 pandemic reached Taiwan earlier this year, the government began requisitioning all surgical masks produced in the country and implemented a rationing system to prevent hoarding and panic buying.

Under the rationing system, each person was allowed to buy two masks per week, then it was increased to three per week, and finally nine every fortnight, as manufacturers ramped up production.

On June 1, Taiwan lifted its export ban on surgical masks, which had been in place since Jan 24, as production grew from 1.88 million to around 20 million per day.

While people can now buy an unlimited number of masks on the open market, the government-controlled nine masks per fortnight are still available at designated pharmacies, with the use of National Health Insurance cards. Chuang said this is to ensure that people have ready access to masks at a stable price.

(By Chen Wei-ting and Joseph Yeh)

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