Convenience stores and supermarkets nationwide are to stop selling locally made masks through the National Health Insurance (NHI) system, as demand for masks through that channel has dropped sharply over the past few months, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday.
With an increase in supply and wide availability of masks, sales through the NHI system have declined 82.5 percent from 189,000 pieces per day in December last year to 33,000 last month, it said.
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) has issued a directive for online pre-purchasing sites, convenience stores and supermarkets to stop selling masks via the NHI system, the center said.
However, pre-ordering and sales of masks at NHI-contracted pharmacies and health centers in remote areas will continue to ensure residents there have ample supplies, it said.
The government in February last year introduced mask rationing through the NHI system to ensure universal access, and curb panic buying and hoarding amid a shortage.
Under the system, holders of NHI cards were allowed to purchase 10 masks every two weeks.
The masks were available only through NHI-contracted pharmacies and health bureaus, four major convenience store chains, supermarkets and some online channels.
Taiwan still maintains a mask mandate for most public areas, but its production of masks has increased sharply since last year.
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