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200,000 of Taiwan's rationed COVID test kits sold in 4 hours

3,653 pharmacies, health centers had sold 199,705 rapid antigen test kits by 11 a.m.

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Pharmacist in Taipei City's Dazhi District sells rapid antigen test kits to customer on April 28.

Pharmacist in Taipei City's Dazhi District sells rapid antigen test kits to customer on April 28. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Consumers snapped up nearly 200,000 government-rationed COVID test kits within four hours on the first day of the new rationing scheme.

Taiwan's new rationing system for home rapid antigen test kits went into effect on Thursday morning (April 28). Under the new program, any resident who holds an NHI card or Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) can receive a test kit, which contains five rapid tests for the price of NT$500 (US$17).

Similar to the mask rationing system that was launched in 2020, those whose NHI cards or ARCs end with odd numbers (1, 3, 5, 7, 9) are restricted to purchasing test kits on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Those whose cards end with even numbers (0, 2, 4, 6, 8) are limited to buying test packets on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, with both allowed to make purchases on Sundays.

According to the latest statistics from the National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA), at 7 a.m. a total of 4,965 NHI-contracted pharmacies and public health centers had government-rationed test kits on hand. By 11 a.m., 3,653 of these outlets had sold 199,705 rapid antigen test kits, comprising nearly half of the 400,000 test kits available for purchase that day.

Apparently due to the large influx of people flooding the system all at once, the NHI experienced a major crash at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday morning, reported CNA. Due to the crash, many pharmacies were forced to suspend sales and wait for the system to return to normal.

The NHI stated that after emergency repairs were carried out, the system reportedly returned to normal by 8:45 a.m.