Taiwan raises maximum age for children’s anti-coronavirus masks to 13

Classes to resume Feb. 25 after extended Lunar New Year holiday

Taiwan is preparing for classes to resume on Feb. 25 

Taiwan is preparing for classes to resume on Feb. 25  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Beginning Saturday (Feb. 22), children of up to 13 years of age will be allowed to buy four face masks a week, according to a government announcement.

Under current rationing measures, adults can only purchase two masks a week when showing their national health insurance card, but with classes at elementary and secondary schools reopening next week, the demand for children’s masks has been increasing.

Classes had been scheduled to resume after the Lunar New Year holiday on Feb. 11, but because of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the government set Feb. 25 as the new date for the return to school.

Whereas until now children’s masks were reserved for those aged 12 and younger, from Saturday, everybody born from Jan. 1, 2007 will be allowed to buy four a week, CNA reported.

The government left the door open for a further rise in the maximum age, eventually to 15, according to media reports.

At present, an estimated 6,000 officially contracted pharmacies and 303 health centers distribute the masks, with residents holding a health insurance card ending in an odd number allowed to buy the masks on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and the even numbers on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. On Sundays, both groups can buy masks for the fixed price of NT$5 a piece.

Taiwan had recorded 26 cases of the virus, including one fatal victim.