Taiwan plans name-based system for quick mask purchase

Taipei released 200,000 surgical masks to doctors, hospitals

Kuomintang legislators hold a press conference on the face mask scarce on Feb. 3, 2020. (CNA)

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — Taiwan residents might have to bring their IDs to buy face masks as early as tomorrow as authorities plan to come up with a solution to ensure universal access.

Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (CDC, 疾管署) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said Monday that relevant agencies are still working on the details of how to implement such a system and will report to the public as soon as possible.

Trouble Getting Masks Despite Gov’t Efforts

Three days since the government limited the number of masks per purchase to three and set a flat fee per piece, people are still queueing outside convenience stores around the time they anticipate masks delivery.

Sold out signs are put up less than one hour after sales begin and complaints about not getting a hold on protective gear, disinfectants continue to sprout on social media.

More and more people are calling for tighter control over the distribution of masks, including a name-based system under which each customer must bring valid IDs to make a purchase.

The move is aimed at preventing people from stockpiling masks by buying at various locations.

Taiwan’s main opposition Kuomintang (國民黨) called for top-down management of mask distribution.

In a statement released on Monday, KMT’s Culture and Communication Committee Interim Chairperson Wang Yu-min (王育敏) suggested that city governments allocate government-procured masks to district and town offices, where households can go collect or purchase with proper identifications.

A Taipei city government official holds a bag of masks at the city hall building on Feb. 3, 2020. (CNA)
A Taipei city government official holds a bag of masks at the city hall building on Feb. 3, 2020. (CNA)

Singapore and Shanghai have already implemented similar mea and Shanghai Daily News reported, respectively.

After registering at their neighborhood and village committees, Shanghai residents can go to designated pharmacies to buy masks upon receipt of notice from the committees, Shanghai Daily News reported.

Surgical Masks Released

Taipei City Government released 200,000 surgical face masks to hospitals and medical institutions Monday morning, Taipei Appointed Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) said.

Masks are appropriated according to hospitals’ current storage and the estimated weekly need, Huang said.