WUHAN VIRUS/Taiwan loosens restrictions on surgical mask imports

News date: 03 February 2020Source: https://focustaiwan.tw/society/202002030004

Taipei, Feb. 3 (CNA) The Customs Administration said Sunday that Taiwan's restrictions on surgical mask imports will be temporarily lifted, amid a mask shortage in the country as people try to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

Under Taiwan's Pharmaceutical Affairs Act, people without a pharmaceutical license who wish to bring masks into the country must apply for a special import permit before doing so, regardless of the quantity, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) official Wu Cheng-ning (吳正寧) told CNA Sunday.

As the demand for masks has skyrocketed in Taiwan, however, the restrictions have been loosened temporarily, Customs Administration Deputy Director-General Peng Ying-wei (彭英偉) said later Sunday.

People can now bring masks into Taiwan, regardless of the quantity, without applying for a permit, Peng said.

Customs officers have been notified of the temporary change, Peng said.

The novel coronavirus, which has been declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization, has infected more than 17,000 people around the world, including 10 in Taiwan, and killed 362.

Surgical masks, which are seen as one way to prevent the spread of the virus, have fallen far short of demand in Taiwan. Sales are being rationed by the government, allowing three masks per customer, but many people are leaving the stores empty-handed.