Singapore, Vatican thank Taiwan for mask donations

TAIPEI (CNA) — The Singapore Red Cross and the Holy See’s top envoy to Taiwan expressed gratitude to Taiwan on Wednesday for its donations of surgical face masks to help with their countries’ response to the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic.

At a handover ceremony in Singapore, Benjamin William, secretary- general of the country’s Red Cross, accepted a donation of 100,000 surgical masks from Taiwan’s representative to Singapore Francis Liang (梁國新).

William expressed thanks to Taiwan and said the masks will be distributed to the Red Cross’ frontline workers and volunteers, as well as to the elderly, migrant workers, and underprivileged groups in his country. In turn, Liang said the donation was part of the Taiwan government’s ongoing assistance to countries hard-hit by the pandemic.

The donation also symbolizes the strong friendship between Taiwan and Singapore and the importance of a joint effort worldwide to combat the virus, he said.

Meanwhile, in Taipei, the Vatican’s top envoy to Taiwan Arnaldo Catalan, also expressed thanks for Taiwan’s donation of 200,000 face masks to the Holy See.

It was Taiwan’s second donation of face masks this month to its only diplomatic ally in Europe, after handing over 280,000 two weeks ago.

At a ceremony at the foreign ministry in Taipei, Catalan welcomed the second batch of masks and conveyed Pope Francis’ best regards to the Taiwanese people, according to the ministry.

Over the past few weeks, Taiwan has been donating surgical masks to countries hard-hit by the pandemic, including the United States and 11 European countries, as well as to its diplomatic allies.

On April 9, Taiwan said it would also donate masks to some of the countries listed in its New Southbound Policy, which covers Australia, New Zealand and 18 countries in Southeast and South Asia.

The donations became possible after Taiwan’s daily production of surgical masks reached 13 million earlier this month, more than four times its output in early February, according to the government.