TAIPEI (CNA) — A computer system crashed Thursday when online applications opened for Taiwanese nationals to send surgical face masks to their spouses and close relatives overseas to help fight the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Due to high traffic, the online system went down soon after it opened at 9.a.m, but it was restored at 1 p.m., allowing Taiwanese to apply for government permission to send up to 30 masks every two months to their overseas relatives.
As of 5:25 p.m. Thursday, 11,000 digital permits had been issued for the shipment of the masks under the government’s mask rationing program. Applications were also being accepted in person and via fax, according to the national Bureau of Foreign Trade (BOFT).
Under the new policy, each person in Taiwan can send their close relatives abroad a maximum of 30 masks via Chunghwa Post or express delivery services, within a two-month period, with each recipient also limited to that quota, according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
For example, if one parent sends the maximum 30 masks to a child living overseas during the two-month period, the other parent or other relatives cannot send masks to the same child during that time, the ministry said.
The senders first have to file an application, and the BOFT will issue a permit number once it has determined that the sender and recipient are immediate family and are both Taiwanese citizens, the ministry said.
The website for online applications — https://emaskep.trade.gov.tw – is linked to the central government’s household registration system and Chunghwa Post’s website, the BOFT said.
When the applicants receive a permit number, they must present it at a Chunghwa post office or to an express delivery service of their choice, according to the bureau.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, parcel post service has been temporarily suspended in 111 countries and regions, including the United Arab Emirates, India, Luxembourg, Greece, Italy, Germany, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Hawaii, but express services such as FedEx and DHL Express are still in operation.
According to a post office in Taichung, an express delivery to the United States now takes about five days.