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Taiwan's Manufacturing Industries Ready to Help in Masks

2020/04/09 | By CENS

The production of masks is stable in Taiwan (Photo courtesy of UDN)The production of masks is stable in Taiwan (Photo courtesy of UDN)
Taiwan is planning to donate another round of surgical face masks overseas, this time with over a million pieces going to several countries targeted by the government's New Southbound Policy (NSP), as well as other countries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced Tuesday.

At a press briefing in Taipei, the head of MOFA's Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Baushuan Ger (葛葆萱), said the masks will be sent to about seven to eight NSP countries that have recently asked for help from Taiwan, as well as countries outside of the Asia-Pacific region.The surgical masks will be provided primarily to healthcare workers in these countries to assist them in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, Ger said.

Taiwan confirmed its first COVID-19 case on Jan. 21. Within days, surgical face masks disappeared from store shelves, amid panic buying over the country's perceived vulnerability to an outbreak.In response to the shortages, the government banned face mask exports on Jan. 24 and took control of mask distribution from the private sector on Jan. 31.To increase production, the government invested NT$200 million (US$6.66 million) to purchase new supply lines, and began recruiting a team of about 100 technicians to assemble them at requisitioned manufacturing facilities.

In the first phase of the team's deployment, from Feb. 5-March 5, it completed an estimated four-to-six-month workload, assembling 60 supply lines. With each machine able to manufacture 100,000 masks per day, the country's daily mask production jumped from 4 million to 10 million.

Furthermore, Taiwan has intensified its efforts to raise its global profile by offering to donate urgently needed face masks and medical aids to other countries.Observers said Taiwan's efforts to control the Covid-19 outbreak had highlighted the strengths of its medical system and increased its visibility on the world stage.It has also been praised by world leaders, with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen saying the EU is thankful for Taiwan's efforts and gestures of solidarity, while the US state department described Taiwan as a true friend.