After two hectic days of mixed information, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC, 中央流行疫情指揮中心) confirmed Wednesday that foreign tourists won’t have access to face masks provided by health authorities.
Foreigners who are not covered by the national health insurance (NHI) are not registered in the new name-based system that records purchase history and uploads it to an online system shared nationwide, CECC Chief Commander Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said at Wednesday’s press conference.
This means visitors on tourist visas will not be able to buy masks starting tomorrow.
Foreign residents who are already covered by the NHI program should bring their insurance cards.
Foreign residents whose health insurance hasn’t kicked in will be entitled to face masks as long as they present valid Alien Resident Certificates (ARC) or Alien Permanent Resident Certificates (APRC). Chinese spouses must present their Exit and Entry Permits.
Each person is entitled to two pieces every seven days and can only buy them at NHI-contracted pharmacies upon presentation of a valid ID document.
Everyone is allowed to purchase for a maximum of one friend or family as long as they bring the person’s ID along with their own.
Children’s masks are available to those under 12 years old. Parents must present the kid’s ID document/NHI card to purchase.
The announcement came after the National Health Insurance Administration (NHI, 健保署) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA, 食藥署) gave contradictory information to reporters on Tuesday.
健保署官員張鈺旋向 The China Post 解釋健保署在被我方告知口罩新制不一致的規範後立即與食藥署重新召開會議。
NHI official Chang You-hsuan (張鈺旋) told The China Post that the agency reconvened with the FDA shortly after The China Post pointed out to them that their take on the incoming plan was inconsistent.
In order to avoid long queues, you should go to pharmacies according to the last digit of their ID number or residency number.
If the latter ends in an odd number, you are eligible to buy masks on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; even numbers should go on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Sundays are open to all.
The flat fee per piece will drop by NT$1 (US$0.33) from NT$6 (US$0.2) to NT$5 (US$0.16), and locals will need to show their health insurance card to make a purchase, the minister added.