The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said its policy and advice on wearing masks for preventing COVID-19 infection have not changed.
“Our guidelines and policy for wearing masks have not changed, but people should consider wearing a mask in enclosed crowded spaces with poor air ventilation,” Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, told a news conference in Taipei.
People who must attend events in small crowded venues, where they would have frequent and close contact with other people, are advised to wear a mask, he said.
Chen’s comments follow remarks yesterday from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安), who said that the CECC should reconsider its previous suggestion that healthy people do not have to wear masks, as confirmed cases of COVID-19 with an unclear source of infection have been reported in Taiwan.
Although some elected politicians might feel obligated to attend weddings, funerals or other events in their electoral districts, Chen said that such “visits are unnecessary at this time,” and that “while not attending them would not be considered rude, attending them might cause a lot of trouble to everyone.”
He said the center urged government officials to avoid attending all events that are densely crowded with people.
Chen also said that people should avoid unnecessary visits to hospitals and instead should use video chat to speak with friends or family who are hospitalized to reduce the risk of cross-infection and the burden on medical staff.
The CECC also responded to a question about a veterinarian who on Friday wrote on Facebook that after the government centralized the distribution of masks, medical professionals received thinner and more expensive masks.
Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said that there are normal medical masks and surgical masks, and the difference is that surgical masks must be tested to ensure they prevent blood from penetrating the fabric.
The production of surgical masks has increased from about 300,000 masks per day to 600,000 per day, Lo said.
“As for claims that the masks have become thinner, they may have received normal medical masks, which have not passed a blood-penetration test, but according to the Food and Drug Administration’s standard, they have the same effect in blocking microorganisms and preventing virus infection as surgical masks,” he said.
The CECC has continued to supply hospitals with more masks in the past few weeks, bringing the reserved inventory levels up to about 30 days worth and the N95 respirator masks and protective clothing inventory up to about 25 days, for all hospitals, Lo said.
Frontline medical staff do not have to worry when receiving the so-called “thinner” masks, because they have the same protection against COVID-19 droplet infection, he said.
Additional reporting by CNA
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