TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC, 中央流行疫情中心) on Monday announced that 1.29 million people had successfully registered for purchasing face masks as of today noon, including 1.07 million people who already made the related payment.
The center also announced that the total number of face masks that have been allocated from Jan. 31 to April 11 reached 668.73 million, including 607.66 million for local pharmacies and hospitals, as well as 40 million and 21 million masks in stock at post offices and Centers for Disease Control, respectively.
As for parents worried about being unable to buy the right size for their babies, health authorities said that they are working on expanding the online ordering system to include masks for young children, the center said.
Adults can buy nine face masks per two weeks, up from three per week, while children are allocated 14 face masks per two weeks.
If you buy face masks online before April 22, you will be able to place your next order from April 23 to May 6.
Starting on April 22, buyers will also be able to pre-order their masks at Family Mart, 7-Eleven, OK Mart, and Hi-Life convenience stores, once they present their National Health Insurance (NHI) cards.
Buyers will have the option to also choose PX Mart and Simple Mart for delivery of their orders, but those two supermarket chains cannot take orders since they do not have the necessary equipment to read the NHI cards, the official said.
The methods of payment for the pre-ordering system have not been determined yet, according to the official.
Pre-ordering at convenience stores is expected to ease the congestion at NHI-affiliated pharmacies, where people usually have to wait in long lines to buy their quota of masks.
A Cabinet official said that 240 of the 6,000-plus designated pharmacies have asked to withdraw from the program because they do not have enough staff to handle the daily sales.
Since the mask rationing program started Jan. 31, the quota for each person has been increased from two to three per week and then to nine every two weeks, with the sales platforms expanding from pharmacies to a government website and mobile app.
In Taipei City, three vending machines have been installed at the Xinyi District Health Center near Taipei 101 and will be ready to dispense masks from Monday at 8:30 a.m., city officials.
However, payment methods remain an issue for some buyers, as cash is accepted only at the pharmacies, where the long lines are a deterrent for many people.