None of the 3 million non-medical grade masks from China that made their way into Taiwan and were sold as government-rationed face masks were donated to other countries, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Friday.
At a press conference in Taipei, Tsai Shou-chuan (蔡壽洤), a health official and head of the CECC division responsible for materials and supplies, said the masks donated to countries around the world were medical-grade surgical masks or more sophisticated masks. "The masks we donated to other countries were mostly medical grade masks and from what we currently understand we have not found any masks from manufacturer Carry Mask among the 51 million masks donated," Tsai said, but he did not explain how that was determined.
The concern arose after the company, one of the private sector manufacturers whose mask production was requisitioned by the government, was found to have imported 3.37 million non-medical grade masks from China in August and then relabeled and repackaged them for sale in the government's mask rationing program. Taiwan began requisitioning domestic face mask production on Jan. 31, and subsequently launched a mask rationing program on Feb. 6, in response to the spread of COVID-19 from China.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Thursday that the incident came to light after a pharmacist in New Taipei's Sanchong District noticed late Wednesday that a mask shipment from the company contained a package labeled "Made in Anhui" in Simplified Chinese characters. The finding was reported to the New Taipei City Pharmacists Association, which then notified the FDA.
The FDA, along with the Ministry of Justice and New Taipei City Department of Health, sent teams to conduct an overnight raid of the company's factory in New Taipei's Bali District. Taiwan has donated 51 million masks to countries around the world since April when 10 million masks went to medical workers in the United States and 11 countries in Europe to help protect users from the coronavirus.