Taiwan bans export of surgical, N95 masks amid China coronavirus outbreak

Taiwanese government implements month-long ban on export of certain masks despite claiming to have sufficient stocks 3 days before

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(AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — With the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak escalating and more cases being officially reported in 10 countries and regions outside China, Taiwan's health authorities are on the alert and on Friday (Jan. 24) announced a month-long export ban on surgical and N95 masks.

To address the surging risk of pneumonia and local demand, the Taiwanese government has issued an export ban for two types of masks between Jan. 24 and Feb. 23. The masks affected by the ban include N95 respirator masks, which can filter at least 94 percent of particles, as well as other masks made from textiles.

Taiwan's Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on Tuesday (Jan. 21) assured the public that the government had sufficient stocks of surgical and N95 masks and that there is no need to overstock. However, just three days later, the government has banned the sale of the masks to other countries.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs recently told the media that Taiwanese mask manufacturers can produce a daily maximum of 2.44 million units, which surpasses the local demand of 1.3 million per day.

The government has also expanded border controls to include denying entry to residents of Wuhan, requiring health statements from passengers arriving from China, Hong Kong, and Macau, and quarantining those exhibiting fever and other symptoms related to the pneumonia-causing virus.