TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As wildfires continue to rage in Australia, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Tuesday (Jan. 14) said that it will donate 100,000 medical-grade face masks to the fire-ravaged country.
As Australia suffers its worst wildfires in decades, with at least 28 dead and 3,000 homes destroyed, air quality levels have reached hazardous levels from the pollution hurled into the air by the flames. In New South Wales alone, over 100 fires continue to blaze, and the air quality in Syndey has risen to 11 times what would be deemed "hazardous," reported CNN.
At a press conference on Tuesday, MOFA Spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said that the ministry is in constant contact with its Australian counterpart to assess its needs in the ongoing disaster. Ou said that Taiwan has a preliminary plan of donating 100,000 sets of medical-grade masks to help residents filter out pollutants from the fires' thick smoke, reported CNA.
Ou said MOFA is looking into the relevant laws and regulations governing the donation of medical supplies to expedite the process of providing the masks. The first wave of masks will include 6,000 N95 respirators, while the type of the remaining masks is still under consideration, according to Liberty Times.
At the beginning of January, the Australian Office in Taipei expressed gratitude to Taiwan and other regional partners for their willingness to assist and announced that it had opened multiple donation channels for people who are interested in providing assistance. On Tuesday, the office announced on Facebook that it was greatly appreciative of gestures of support from around the world to assist with bushfire recovery efforts.
It also announced that the Taiwan Red Cross is taking donations in New Taiwan dollars for the Australian bush fire recovery effort and urged members of the public to submit donations to the "Everywhere for Everyone II" website. Those who wish to make a contribution are asked to identify "Australian bushfires" as the "purpose" of the donation.