TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As the wave of panic buying, hoarding, and profiteering over face masks continues unabated amid the coronavirus (Wuhan virus) outbreak, the Taiwan government announced Thursday (Feb. 13) that it will extend its ban on the export of face masks to the end of April.
Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs, Wang Mei-hua (王美花) announced the ban on exporting masks will continue until the end of April, reported CNA. Wang said the official directive will be reviewed in accordance with the evolving Wuhan virus situation and if the epidemic subsides sooner than expected, the ban may be lifted earlier than scheduled.
Taiwan health authorities on Jan. 24 announced an export ban on face masks that was initially set to run 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.
Some online retailers in Taiwan have been purchasing masks in bulk and reselling them to China. Fishing vessels have also been caught loaded down with smuggled masks, such as the one pictured above, which was inspected by Coast Guard Administration (CGA) authorities on Wednesday (Feb. 12).
Outbound travelers are also being warned against bringing with them more than 250 masks, the maximum amount allowed. Violators will be subject to a fine of up to three times the price of the masks and will have their goods impounded, pursuant to the Customs Anti-Smuggling Act.