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EU, US thank Taiwan for donations of surgical masks

Taiwan pledged to provide 10 million masks to countries heavily impacted by coronavirus

Surgical masks. (CNA photo)

Surgical masks. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The EU and U.S. have both expressed gratitude for the donations of surgical masks proposed by Taiwan, which on Wednesday (April 1) pledged to provide a total of 10 million masks to help contain the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The European Union thanks Taiwan for its donation of 5.6 million masks to help fight the #coronavirus,” tweeted Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, on Thursday (April 2). “We really appreciate this gesture of solidarity,” she said, adding that Taiwan’s offer “show[s] that we are #StrongerTogether” at a time when international cooperation is necessary to tackle the virus.

EU, US thank Taiwan for donations of surgical masks
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Wednesday said the country would donate 10 million surgical masks to “support medical workers in countries where the COVID-19 outbreak is particularly severe.” “Later on, we will provide even more support to the international community based on our domestic production capacity,” she added.

“Over the past months, we established a national team. Now, we must take part in a global campaign and work together with other countries,” the president stated. She continued, saying, “Out of humanitarian concern, Taiwan cannot stand by while countries are in dire need of assistance to stop the spread of this virus.”

The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the de-facto U.S. embassy in the island country, also thanked Taiwan for the “the generous mask donations” via a Facebook post. “These urgently-needed masks will go to front-line medical workers across the United States,” the AIT said, adding that “Taiwan is a real friend.”

According to Taiwan’s foreign ministry, a total of seven million of surgical masks will be provided to the EU, Switzerland, and the U.K. The country will send two million masks to the U.S. in addition to the weekly donations of 100,000 masks promised by Taiwan earlier as part of a cooperative project.

“We express sincere gratitude for the donation of seven million face masks to various EU countries, including Germany. The offering is an aid at the right time,” said the German Representative to Taiwan, Thomas Prinz. He also commended the Taiwanese authorities for their “very smart measures to prevent the virus from spreading domestically” and the public for their cooperation.

The British Office Taipei issued a statement, stating, “We are very grateful for Taiwan’s generous offer of surgical masks to the UK among other countries.” The office went on to say, “We look forward to working on further details with the Taiwanese authorities.”

The Netherlands, Belgium, and France have also expressed appreciation for the donations via their representative offices in Taiwan.

Currently, Taiwan manufactures 13 million surgical masks on a daily basis, and the production is expected to soon reach 15 million. The country has managed to boost mask production from around four million a day in early February to over 10 million within two months, through government-subsidized equipment for manufacturers, in exchange for free face masks.

The Taiwanese government has, since February, banned exports of surgical masks in view of the severe coronavirus outbreak in China. It also introduced a rationing system to prevent stockpiling of masks by businesses or individuals.

Taiwanese authorities announced earlier this month that three tons of non-woven fabric, the main material in surgical masks, would be provided to Australia in exchange for one million liters of alcohol that could be made into hand sanitizers. “In facing this global COVID-19 pandemic, we are pleased to work with [Taiwan] to keep open the supply of critical inputs to our medical systems, bolstering health outcomes for our people,” proclaimed the Australian representative office in Taipei on Tuesday (March 31).