The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday called on the Ministry of Health and Welfare to take more aggressive measures to ensure the authenticity of masks circulating in the nation.
Masks are important for preventing the spread of COVID-19, but suspected cases of counterfeit masks — including of nonmedical-grade masks being passed off as medical-grade ones — have led people to worry, KMT Culture and Communications Committee chairwoman Alicia Wang (王育敏) told a news conference in Taipei.
Management of the masks should be the ministry’s top priority, but it has failed to do a good job, Wang said, urging the ministry to adopt more aggressive measures.
Citing the postponement of a new mask imprint policy that was to go into effect yesterday, she called the ministry and the Executive Yuan’s response to the suspected counterfeit mask incidents “chaotic,” adding that the public might lose confidence in the nation’s COVID-19 prevention efforts.
The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday last week announced that flat medical masks manufactured in Taiwan must be stamped with the words “MD” — for “medical device” — and “Made in Taiwan,” but the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Wednesday said that the start date of the policy would be delayed to Thursday next week.
The central government has so far been “passive” in dealing with mask issues, Wang said.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, should avoid “only thinking about promoting [himself] all day long,” or about a potential mayoral bid in the 2022 local elections, she said.
The government must not only ensure that people have enough masks, but also that they are safe to use, KMT New Taipei City Councilor Chiang I-chen (江怡臻) said.
KMT Taipei City Councilor Wang Hung-wei (王鴻薇), who is also the committee’s deputy chairwoman, questioned the ministry’s ability to manage imports of US pork containing ractopamine, saying that it “cannot even manage” the 66 mask manufacturers that are part of the “national team” supplying the nation’s mask rationing program.
The central government also leaves local authorities to “pick up the pieces” from its mistakes, she said, adding that the center has said that local public health departments would have to help with imprinting unsold masks that were legally produced.
Giving interviews, taking part in performances and posing for photographs are “not [Chen’s] primary occupation,” Alicia Wang said.
Referring to Chen’s appearance on Saturday last week as a guest at singer Chan Ya-wen’s (詹雅雯) concert at the Taipei Arena, Alicia Wang added that Chen should “return” to his formal job.
Additional reporting by CNA
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