The Executive Yuan last night announced new measures to regulate purchases of masks, including requiring people to present their health insurance cards to purchase them at pharmacies.
The decision was made during a meeting presided over by Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), Exectuive Yuan officials said.
Effective Thursday, people will have to present their National Health Insurance (NHI) cards when purchasing masks at 6,505 contracted pharmacies across the nation, they said.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center, told a press conference at 9pm that starting today, convenience stores would stop selling masks.
People whose identification cards end with an even number can buy masks on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, while those that end with an odd number can buy masks on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, he said, adding that the restriction does not apply on Sunday.
Each person can purchase only two masks every seven days, with each mask priced at NT$5, Chen said.
People can bring one family member’s NHI card to buy masks on their behalf, while children’s masks can only be purchased with an NHI card belonging to a child 12 years old or younger, he added.
The center urges people to wear masks when they visit healthcare facilities or if they have a chronic disease or respiratory problems, as well as in crowded spaces, Chen said.
People who are healthy do not have to wear a mask outdoors, he added.
The new measure was adopted on the recommendation of New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜).
“There is indeed a shortage of surgical masks,” Hou said yesterday morning. “There is a lack of transparency on information about mask manufacturers and distribution. The central government should clearly tell people how many masks each person can purchase.”
There are about 1,000 drug stores in New Taipei City, he said, adding that people are less likely to panic if they know that they can buy masks by presenting their NHI cards.
Taiwan can learn from Singapore and Macau, where people are required to present their national identification cards and household certificates to buy masks, he said.
If the government adopts such a policy, everyone would be able to purchase masks and no one would stockpile them or rush to buy more, he said.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alicia Wang (王育敏) agreed.
Even though the Democratic Progressive Party administration has imposed a month-long ban on mask exports, and closely monitors their purchase and distribution, most people still have trouble finding masks and have to wait in line to buy them, she said.
This shows that the government still has room for improvement in terms of regulating mask sales and increasing transparency of information, she added.
Wang also suggested that masks procured by the government be distributed to township offices and borough warden offices nationwide, to be purchased by registered residents.
Not only would this ensure that everyone has a mask, but it would also spare people the trouble of waiting in lines or being unable to find masks, she said.
Transparency is key in alleviating people’s doubts and concerns, she added.
Additional reporting by Chiu Yen-ling and CNA
FLIGHT RISK? The driver of the truck that slid onto the tracks, causing the crash, was released on NT$500,000 bail, but prosecutors have requested that he be detained Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday listed three priorities in response to the deadliest accident involving a Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) train in the past 40 years: rescuing the injured, clearing the single-track tunnel and assisting the families of the victims. Taroko Express No. 408, traveling from New Taipei City to Taitung on Friday morning, derailed as it entered the Cingshuei Tunnel (清水隧道) in Hualien’s Sioulin Township (秀林). Of the 496 people on board, including four TRA personnel, 51 had died and 188 were injured as of 7pm yesterday, after the train hit a crane truck that had slid down a slope
IN A HURRY: The 199,200 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine expire on May 31, so the CECC might expand vaccine eligibility, but distribution would begin in a week at the earliest The first batch of COVID-19 vaccines allocated to Taiwan through the COVAX global vaccine-sharing program arrived yesterday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said, adding that, after testing, it would be able to distribute them by Monday next week at the earliest. The 199,200 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were shipped from Amsterdam on a China Airlines (中華航空) plane and arrived at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at 5:21am. After the cargo was examined and release procedures were completed at the airport, the Aviation Police Bureau escorted the vehicles carrying the vaccines to a cold chain storage facility. Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General
HEATED TRAFFIC: As Beijing holds naval drills near Taiwan, the Ministry of National Defense said it had a full grasp of the situation and would handle it ‘appropriately’ A Chinese carrier group exercising near Taiwan is part of what are to be regular drills, the Chinese navy said in a statement late on Monday, further escalating tensions between Taipei and Beijing. The group, including the aircraft carrier Liaoning, was conducting “routine” drills in the waters around Taiwan, a move to “enhance its capability to safeguard national sovereignty, safety and development interests,” the statement said. “Similar exercises will be conducted regularly,” it said, without elaborating. The statement came after the Ministry of National Defense earlier on Monday issued a statement regarding a rise in the number of incursions by Chinese jets into
AIMED AT TAIWAN? Institute for National Defense and Security Research research fellow Ou Si-fu said chips can be ‘bought off the shelf’ and then used in weapons The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) yesterday said that chips from Taiwanese semiconductor companies were not making their way into Chinese missiles “to the best of our knowledge.” A report in yesterday’s Washington Post alleged that a Chinese company named Phytium Technology Co (飛騰) used chips made by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), along with US software, in advanced Chinese military systems. “TSMC has long placed strict controls on their chips. The export of high-tech products from Taiwan is also highly regulated,” Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花) said. “According to our understanding, none of the end uses for those products