CORONAVIRUS/Implementation of mask imprint policy postponed to Sept. 24

09/16/2020 08:41 PM
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Photo from the Facebook page of Storewell Media Manufacturing Ltd.
Photo from the Facebook page of Storewell Media Manufacturing Ltd.

Taipei, Sept. 16 (CNA) A policy that will require domestic manufacturers of surgical masks to emboss them with the letters "MD" and "MIT" will take effect Sept. 24, one week later than planned, to allow for logistical adjustments, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said Wednesday.

The postponement followed an announcement Tuesday afternoon by Taiwan's Food and Drug Administration (FDA), saying the new policy would start Sept. 17 in a bid to prevent fraud, but the statement was retracted later in the day without any explanation.

At a Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) press briefing Wednesday, Chen said the implementation of the policy will be postponed to Sept. 24, to allow for the installation of embossing machines and other logistical adjustments.

When the policy takes effect, all surgical masks pre-ordered through the National Health Insurance (NHI) system will carry the imprint "MD" (Medical Device) and "MIT" (Made in Taiwan), he said.

For in-store purchases, masks produced before Sept. 24, which do not have the imprints, will be allowed on the market until Dec. 24, Chen said.

Domestically produced masks that do not have the imprint must be recalled by March 23, 2021, after which they must be certified by local health authorities before they can be put on sale again, Chen said.

The government's decision to require the imprints followed several recent reports of local manufacturers supplying counterfeit masks to retailers.

On Sept. 3, the FDA said it had shut down the manufacturer Carry Mask in New Taipei, after the company was accused of importing more than 3 million non-medical grade masks from China and supplying them to pharmacies for sale under the NHI system.

One week later, the owner of the Changhua-based Haw Ping Co. was detained on suspicion of importing some 10 million non-medical grade masks from China and labeling them as domestic products.

(By Chang Ming-hsuan, Chen Wei-ting and Matthew Mazzetta)

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