Authorities reassure public amid risks of face masks shortage

A person wearing a face mask is seen in a photo taken on Jan. 22, 2020. (CNA)
A person wearing a face mask is seen in a photo taken on Jan. 22, 2020. (CNA)

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — There is no rush to snap up face masks, Taiwan’s epidemic response command center said on Wednesday, as fear continued to grow after health authorities reported the first confirmed case of the SARS-like coronavirus.

Echoing President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文)  address to the nation earlier in the day, Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said that there is currently no shortage of face masks in the country and that the agency will regularly distribute them to the public.

CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said that the agency will allocate face masks to retailers, and that the price for a box of 50 masks is not allowed to go above NT$300 (US$10).

The agency will distribute one million masks on Wednesday and Thursday, and another one million per week between Jan. 30 to March 20.

Earlier Wednesday, Tsai urged the public to stay calm in the midst of the SARS-like virus outbreak, and called upon Beijing to exercise due diligence in information transparency on Wednesday morning, as both countries head to Chinese New Year vacations tomorrow.

Taiwanese and Chinese travel extensively during Chinese New Year vacations as it is tradition that families reunite and celebrate together. It has been called the largest annual human migration in the world. Concerns arouse that this mass movement will exacerbate the spreading of the disease.

As of Jan. 21, China’s National Health Commission reported a total of nine deaths and 440 confirmed cases.

 

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