The government has decided to requisition 3 million N95 masks per month — the nation’s total monthly output — to ensure a stable supply for medical workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, a Ministry of Economic Affairs official said yesterday.
On average, medical workers in Taiwan use 30,000 to 40,000 N95 masks a day, and there are no worries at present about a shortage of supply, the official, who declined to be named, told the Central News Agency.
However, the government decided to go ahead and requisition the masks — 1.5 million every two weeks — on advice from the Centers for Disease Control to ensure the safety of medical personnel, the official said, without giving further details.
The four local companies capable of producing N95 masks have a combined capacity of 100,000 to 105,000 per day, the official said.
That capacity is projected to rise by about 20,000 units per day when one of the companies adds new production lines by the end of this month, the official said.
The government first requisitioned N95 masks, which can filter out at least 95 percent of airborne particles, on Feb. 6, according to a local mask supplier, and planned to requisition 2.1 million of them from Feb. 17 to March 17.
The N95 masks are more time-consuming to make than the regular masks that are widely used by most workers and other people.
Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) on Monday told reporters that N95 masks require four times the amount of melt-blown nonwoven fabric needed for a standard mask, of which Taiwan now produces 15 million a day.
Although enough of the raw material exists to produce both types of masks in their current quantities, Shen said the ministry would adjust the output of the masks based on the progression of the pandemic should the demand for N95 masks or regular masks rise sharply.
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