TAIPEI (CNA)—Indonesian state-owned Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI) said Sunday that it has distributed thousands of surgical face masks for Indonesian migrant workers in Taiwan in an effort to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Of that number, 2,000 pieces were distributed to Indonesian migrant workers in Tainan that day, BNI said.
Another 2,000 pieces were distributed earlier Feb. 23 in Taipei, while an earlier batch of 1,000 masks were distributed in Taichung Feb. 16 in coordination with the Indonesian Economic Trade Office in Taiwan, BNI said.
The masks, which are all medical grade, were paid for by the Indonesian government to help its citizens abroad who may be potentially impacted by the spread of the acute respiratory disease, according to M. Zaky Faishal, BNI’s representative in Taiwan.
“We want to help Indonesian migrant workers in Taiwan to avoid the coronavirus and also show our care to them,” he said. “From our understanding, it has been difficult to buy masks because of a surging demand.”
Many migrants in Taiwan have reflected their concerns about the difficulty of buying masks due to a rationing system that often requires people to line up long hours to purchase two masks for every seven days with their National Health Insurance cards.
“It’s so difficult to buy masks in the area around my place of work,” said an Indonesian caretaker only identified as Mia, adding that the masks distributed by the BNI has helped relieve some of her worries.
After learning of a recent case of an Indonesian national in Taiwan who has become infected with the coronavirus, Faishal recommends his fellow compatriots to frequently wash their hands and avoid crowded places.
The Indonesian national was an undocumented migrant caretaker who was hired to help take care of an elderly man in hospital and was confirmed Wednesday to have COVID-19, a few days after the man was diagnosed with the virus.
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced Saturday that five new cases of COVID-19 coronavirus have been confirmed, bringing the total number of cases in Taiwan to 39.
There were a total of 277,608 Indonesian migrant workers in Taiwan at the end of January, according to Ministry of Labor statistics.