TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — With Omicron cases rapidly ramping up, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Monday (April 18) announced that it will launch a new home test kit rationing scheme similar to its quota for masks implemented in 2020.
During a session of the Legislative Yuan on Monday, CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said that the new home testing kit rationing program will start in early May. Under the new scheme, every Taiwan resident will be allotted five at-home rapid antigen test kits.
Chen said that for the rationing initiative the government will requisition 30.9 million kits by the end of July from five domestic manufacturers, including Taidoc Technology Corp., Panion & BF Biotech Inc., Formosa Biomedical Technology Corp., Excelsior Bio-System Inc., and Enimmune Corp. In addition, the government will also acquire 100 million kits from foreign firms.
When Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lai Hui-yuan (賴惠員) asked if the price of each kit could be lowered to NT$100 (US$3.40), Chen pledged "We will try our best, it is possible." Lai then asked if the rapid antigen test kits would be distributed free of charge to vulnerable groups, to which Chen responded by saying that as was the case with the mask rationing system, the public will need to pay a fee and there is currently no such plan to distribute them without cost.
According to a report by the Ministry of Health and Welfare delivered to the Legislative Yuan, the five domestic firms have a capacity of 4.9 million test kits per month. They will work with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Ministry of National Defense to ramp up their production capacity to 12.80 million kits a month by May and 15.8 million in the future once new equipment is acquired.