Surgical masks on sale at Taiwan airport duty-free shops

Masks will be available for inbound passengers and cost NT$50 or US$2 for 3 masks

Duty-free shops at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. 

Duty-free shops at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.  (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Having caught up with an upsurge in local demand for surgical masks due to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control (CECC) announced on Friday (March 20) it would make masks available at airports.

Working together, the government and local mask manufacturers are now churning out 10 million masks a day. This is a huge leap from the 1.88 million units three months ago.

The CECC said masks will be available at all duty-free shops at the country's five international airports from Saturday (March 21) and each inbound passenger can buy one pack of three adult-size or five child-size masks for NT$50 or US$2. A boarding pass, passport, or equivalent travel documents are required to make the purchase.

Purchases for both Taiwanese and foreigners will be recorded in the country's National Health Insurance system and is subject to the rationing policy of every Taiwanese and Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) holder buying three adult-size or five child-size masks per week. Each unit costs just NT$5 (US$0.17), regardless of the size.

According to the plan, 70,000 packs of adult-size masks and 10,000 child-size masks will be distributed to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport per week; with 2,000/200 adult/child-size masks to Taipei Songshan Airport; 1,500/200 adult/child-size masks to Taichung International Airport; 500/50 adult/child-size masks to Tainan Airport; and 3600/200 adult/child-size masks to Kaohsiung International Airport.

The quota will be adjusted according to demand. Even so, the CECC is still advising people to avoid unnecessary overseas travel and reiterated the 14-day home quarantine policy for all inbound passengers starting March 19.

Taiwan barred foreign visitors from entering the country from March 19, with the exception of ARC holders, diplomatic officials, and businesspeople with a special entry permit. This was done to contain the spread of the deadly Wuhan virus (COVID-19) after the country saw a spike of imported coronavirus cases over the previous week.