Surgical masks sold out within minutes on Taiwan shopping sites

TAIPEI (CNA) — Thousands of surgical face masks that went on sale on the open market in Taiwan Wednesday in the wake of a rationing program were snapped up by online buyers in less than 10 minutes, according to some major shopping sites.

Yahoo! Kimo Shopping Mall said that shortly after it put up its first batch of 10,000 masks at 10 a.m., the site crashed due to heavy traffic.

The system was soon repaired, and by 10:09 a.m., the 10,000 masks were sold out, Yahoo! Kimo said.

On PChome24h Shopping, its first supply of 10,000 surgical face masks, manufactured by Taiwan’s renowned medical equipment supplier China Surgical Dressings Center Co. (CSD), were snapped up within two minutes after they went on sale at 4 p.m., according to the e-commerce giant.

One of the other major e-commerce platforms in Taiwan, momoshop.com.tw, said the 10,000 masks it put up for sale on Wednesday were sold out in less than 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, many physical retailers, including cosmetics, hypermarket and supermarket chains, as well as medical supply stores, have also started selling masks again.

Watsons, which operates some 550 cosmetics stores in Taiwan, said the first batch of face masks it made available Wednesday in boxes of 50 and in plastic packaging of smaller quantities had sold out.

The company said it was expecting delivery of 24,000 boxes of masks later in the week.

Another cosmetics chain COSMED, meanwhile, said it began accepting orders for face masks on Wednesday and is expected to have a supply of 1 million. Customers can place orders and collect their masks at its 400 outlets across Taiwan, the company said.

In addition, boxes of 50 masks priced at NT$299 will go on sale at all of its stores on Friday, COSMED said.

MedFirst Healthcare, a medical supply retail chain, said it will soon stock 15,000 boxes, each containing 50 masks, at its 257 stores, and they will be sold at NT$6 per mask.

Earlier this year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Taiwan government began requisitioning all surgical face masks manufactured in the country, and it implemented a rationing program for the public, limiting each buyer to three masks per week and later to nine per fortnight.