2nd round of Taiwan's online mask-rationing system begins March 25

System constantly adjusted to better allocate surgical masks to public

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Group of men wear face masks to protect against coronavirus while playing Chinese chess in Taipei.

Group of men wear face masks to protect against coronavirus while playing Chinese chess in Taipei. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The second round of an online mask-rationing system starts Wednesday (March 25) as Taiwan seeks to distribute the much sought-after protective gear more efficiently amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Individuals can place pre-orders for surgical masks between 8 a.m. March 25 and 8 p.m. March 27 by registering their National Health Insurance card number on a website (available in Chinese and English versions) or by using the National Health Insurance Administration-developed app, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).

Three masks cost NT$22 (US$0.70) including an NT$7 shipping fee. Those who pay between March 28 and 30 will see their masks delivered to contracted convenience stores between April 2 and 8.

Dubbed the “Real-name Mask System 2.0,” the mechanism was introduced on March 12 and has been used 117.8 million times. Most of those who have availed themselves of the service are salary or hourly workers, with 60 percent between the ages of 30 to 49, who do not have the luxury of lining up at pharmacies to buy masks, reported Liberty Times.

The CECC has adopted a rolling view of the country’s mask rationing system and promised that this time around, the processing time for each purchase will be shortened to a week. If the pre-orders exceed the number of masks available, they will be allocated through a lottery system.