Taiwan’s mask rationing system to stay in place for now: CECC

Two people are seen in mask on Feb. 13, 2020. (CNA)
Two people are seen in mask on Feb. 13, 2020. (CNA)

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — A policy designed to prevent masks stockpiling will stay in place for now, Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC, 中央流行疫情指揮中心) announced on Thursday.

The name-based mask rationing system aims to provide universal access and requires customers to present their national health insurance cards or resident certificates to make a purchase at local pharmacies or drug stores.

CECC Chief Commander Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said at a press conference that authorities have not set a date for when the system will end.

In an attempt to ensure sufficient stock for Taiwanese residents, the Cabinet extended the ban on mask exports imposed by Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) in January to April 30.

The government will also continue to procure face masks from local manufacturers, Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-Hua (王美花) said.

According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, (MOHW, 衛福部) Taiwan produced on average 4.5 million masks between Feb. 3 and Feb. 9. That number is expected to grow this week.

Should the epidemic die down, it is possible that the Cabinet will lift the ban sooner, Wang said.

As of press time, Taiwan has reported 18 Covid-19 cases, among which two have been discharged from the hospital after test results came back negative.

The virus has killed more than 1,300 people in the epicenter of China as its tally soared past 59,000 this morning. Globally, infections have been reported in more than 26 countries with the first death outside China in the Philippines.