Airport customs makes largest single seizure of face masks

CNA file photo
CNA file photo

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan’s airport officials confiscated 3,020 surgical face masks from a Taiwanese citizen heading to Singapore Feb. 25, the largest single seizure in the country from air travelers since export restrictions were placed on face masks in late January due to the COVID-19 coronavirus, the Customs Administration said Sunday.

The more than 3,000 masks were found in the check-in luggage of a Taiwanese female who was scheduled to fly to Singapore, a Customs Administration official said.

Inspectors originally found 3,270 face masks in her luggage, exceeding the maximum 250 masks a traveler is allowed to carry out of the country per trip, the official said.

The authorities confiscated 3,020 masks and returned the allowable quota of 250 to the passenger in question, the official added. The seized masks will be redistributed for use in the government’s efforts to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

According to Customs Administration tallies, it has so far confiscated 171,450 face masks in 851 cases of violations since Jan. 24.

Meanwhile, a total of 3,289 surgical masks were found in outbound postal packages at Chunghwa Post’s mail processing center in Taipei last Tuesday and Wednesday, according to Customs Administration.

In view of the COVID-19 epidemic and to ensure sufficient domestic supplies, face mask exports, including those sent through the post, are forbidden from Jan. 24 to April 30 unless exporters secure prior authorization from the the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Bureau of Foreign Trade.