The government plans to purchase 4 million masks a day to ensure continued supply and availability of masks during heightened alert over the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), Executive Yuan spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka said yesterday.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Tuesday announced that it would be releasing 6 million masks a day onto the market for three consecutive days.
However, that measure was insufficient, as there was still a shortage of masks yesterday.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare yesterday said that between Wednesday last week and Wednesday, more than 19.7 million masks were distributed to the nation’s four major convenience store chains, as well as pharmacies.
In addition to purchasing 4 million masks a day, the Ministry of Economic Affairs would also be supplying health ministry staff with masks, Kolas said.
The government has imposed a standard price on masks — NT$8 (US$0.26) per pack of three — to prevent stores or individuals from driving up prices, Kolas added.
The economics ministry is also investigating ways to step up the production of masks from 4 million to 6 million a day, she said.
Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Ho Chi-kung (何啟功) said that the ministry is monitoring the number of mask sales.
“Continued difficulty in obtaining masks could lead to the ministry establishing a logistics platform and a task force,” Ho said.
Meanwhile, the Consumer Protection Committee warned that anyone found guilty of driving up the prices of masks could face a fine or be subject to imprisonment.
Citing Article 251 of the Criminal Code, the committee said that intentionally inflating the price or stockpiling masks could be penalized with up to three years of imprisonment, as well as a NT$300,000 fine.
The practices could also contravene the Fair Trade Act (公平交易法), resulting in fines of NT$50,000 to NT$25 million, the committee said.
The committee is inspecting distributors of masks, to observe demand and whether there are any incidents of prices being inflated.
Additional reporting by CNA
HONG KONG SECURITY: The president blasted regulations requiring Taiwanese agents or political organizations to provide information on their Hong Kong-related activities President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday warned of countermeasures should controversial Chinese national security legislation imposed on Hong Kong undermine or harm Taiwanese interests. Article 43 of the legislation empowers the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to serve written notices to Taiwanese political organizations or individual agents to furnish information on their Hong Kong-related activities, including their personal particulars, finances, assets, expenditure and capital in the territory. Failure to comply or providing false or incomplete information can result in a fine of HK$100,000 (US$12,903) or imprisonment of six months or two years respectively. Tsai said that Taiwan would keep a close watch on how
JUST QUESTIONS: Expelled reporter Ai Kezhu said that every member of Southeast Television had complied with the law and had not appeared on any talk shows Two Chinese reporters yesterday left Taiwan after the government revoked their accreditation and ordered them to leave amid a probe into allegations that several Chinese media outlets have set up studios and produced political talk shows in Taiwan. The two reporters — Ai Kezhu (艾珂竹) and Lu Qiang (盧薔) — worked for Fujian Province-based Southeast Television and arrived in Taiwan in December last year. The Mainland Affairs Council has launched an investigation after local media reported that Chinese broadcasters — including China Central Television, Southeast Television and FJTV — had set up studios in Taipei and produced political talk shows. Council Deputy Minister
PROBE LAUNCHED: An officer who served as a supervisor in the drill died in an apparent suicide after the accident, which was caused by unexpected waves Two marines who were on Friday injured in a military exercise in the waters off Kaohsiung passed away yesterday, Navy Command said. The marines — surnamed Tsai (蔡), 26, and a sergeant surnamed Chen (陳), 36 — were in a seven-member Marine Corps team that encountered rough seas during a simulated response to enemy forces landing on Taiwan. Their rubber craft overturned in waters off Taoziyuan (桃子園) beach in Zuoying District (左營), injuring four of the marines. They were rushed to hospital, where three of them — Tsai, Chen and a 34-year-old sergeant — were taken to an intensive care unit
‘SIGNAL TO ALLIES’: The US Navy’s exercises are not in response to those carried out by China, the commander of the strike group led by the USS ‘Ronald Reagan’ said Two US aircraft carriers were yesterday conducting exercises in the disputed South China Sea, the US Navy said as China also carried out military drills that have been criticized by the US Department of Defense and neighboring states. China and the US have accused each other of stoking tension in the waterway at a time of strained relations over everything from COVID-19 to trade to Hong Kong. The USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan were carrying out operations and exercises in the South China Sea “to support a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the navy said in a statement. It did not say exactly