[Latest update: April 9 at 14:45]
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The first batch of Taiwan’s surgical masks arrived in Amsterdam on Tuesday (April 7), as the island country has promised to donate 10 million masks to Europe and the U.S. where the coronavirus (COVID-19) has wreaked havoc in the past two months.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced Thursday that the second batch of mask donations bound for Italy, Spain, and other EU countries was shipped separately on Wednesday and Thursday. It added that the masks intended for the U.S. were also dispatched on Thursday.
“These days we’ve been busy packing face masks for countries hard hit by #Coronavirus,” tweeted Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) on Wednesday evening. He gave a shout out to allied countries affected by the virus, which first broke out in China and later spread to the rest of the world, saying they would overcome the challenge together.
Taiwan has promised to offer 10 million surgical masks to medical workers worldwide, as its daily production of masks has increased significantly over the past couple of months. “Over the past months, we established a national team. Now, we must take part in a global campaign and work together with other countries,” stated President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) at a press conference in early April.
Seven million masks will be delivered to the EU, Switzerland, and the U.K., where coronavirus death tolls continue to climb. Two million masks will go to the U.S. which now has the most confirmed cases in the world, in addition to weekly donations of 100,000 masks guaranteed earlier by Taiwan as part of a cooperative project.
“The U.S. is thankful to #Taiwan for donating 2 million face masks to support our healthcare workers on the frontlines,” tweeted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday. “[Taiwan’s] openness and generosity in the global battle against #COVID19 is a model for the world,” said Pompeo, adding “during tough times, real friends stick together.”
The coronavirus has infected 1.5 million people globally as of April 9, and the world’s death toll is expected to surpass 90,000 in the coming days, according to data from John Hopkins University. Taiwan has so far confirmed fewer than 400 cases and only five deaths since late January, despite its close proximity to China and frequent exchanges between the two countries.
Taiwan’s proactive response to the virus and use of technology in disease prevention have been hailed as the keys to successfully stemming the spread of the virus. The island nation is currently working with European countries and the U.S. on test kit and vaccine research, while also providing ventilators, masks, and other medical equipment to its allies and partners.