Taiwan to produce 10 million face masks per day by early March

Passersby wear face masks while crossing a Taipei street on Feb. 23, 2020. (CNA)
Passersby wear face masks while crossing a Taipei street on Feb. 23, 2020. (CNA)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan is set to increase its production of face masks from the current 4 million per day to 10 million by early March to meet high demand amid preventative efforts against the novel coronavirus, according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA).

At the request of the government, a team of machine tool builders, in collaboration with three research institutes, has built 60 new production lines, each of which can manufacture 100,000 surgical masks per day, the ministry said.

When production starts in the first half of March, therefore, the daily output will be 10 million masks, the MOEA said in a Facebook post last Friday.

Normally, 60 new production lines would take four to six months to build, but the team completed the work in just one month, the ministry said.

This was “not a miracle but the result of cooperation among the Taiwanese people,” the MOEA wrote, commending the “national team” for “completing an almost impossible task.”

The team of machine tool builders was assembled by Habor Hsu (許文憲), chairman of the Taiwan Machine Tool & Accessory Builders’ Association (TMBA), and assisted by personnel from the Industrial Technology Research Institute, the Metal Industries Research & Development Centre, the Precision Machinery Research Development Center, and some 30 companies in the machinery sector.

The TMBA said it hopes that when output reaches 10 million masks per day, people will no longer have to stand in long lines to buy two masks per week under the government’s rationing system.

Since the deadly coronavirus began spreading from China late last month, Taiwan has recorded 26 cases and one death.

As part of the Taiwan government’s efforts to contain and deal with the epidemic, it has been requisitioning and distributing all domestically produced masks to healthcare workers and professionals and to over 6,000 pharmacies and drugstores for regulated sale to consumers.

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