Taiwan to make surgical masks available online

CNA file photo
CNA file photo

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan is planning to make surgical masks available online, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said Monday, amid rising production of the masks in the country, which are in high demand to combat COVID-19.

One of the options for the online purchases is by inserting a person’s National Health Insurance (NHI) card or Citizen Digital Certificate card into a card-reader linked to their computer with Internet access so that the pre-ordered masks can be sent to a nearby convenience store, according to Chen, who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).

Related government authorities are still conducting tests on how to carry out the online face mask ordering system, with more details scheduled to be announced Tuesday, Chen told a CECC press event.

The new approach is being planned to offer an alternative to office workers who have been complaining about unable to purchase surgical masks via existing the face mask rationing system at local drugstores, Chen said.

Lo Yi-chun (羅一鈞) of the CECC added that the government is also considering other purchase options so that people can buy face masks online without the need for using a card-reader.

The online system is currently under repeated pressure tests to make sure of its stability and reliability before it goes online, Lo added.

According to Lo, the government is considering offering the new purchase option because the installation of more production lines in recent weeks has increased capacity in Taiwan to around 9.2 million surgical masks per day.

The production volume is scheduled to rise to 10 million per day next week, he added.

As production has risen, stocks of medical supplies have been replenished at hospitals nationwide to at least a 35-day supply of surgical masks, N95 masks and medical protective clothing, he added.

The surgical mask rationing system was first launched Feb. 6 as part of efforts by the government to ensure that all residents have access to masks amid panic buying.