TAIPEI: As the Wuhan coronavirus epidemic continues to escalate around the world, Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) has decided to speed up production of surgical and N95 masks to 10 million a day in five weeks.
Despite the announcement of a month-long export ban on surgical and N95 masks and the fact that local mask manufacturers can produce 4 million units a day, panic buying has still occurred in the country of 23 million people.
CNA reported the Executive Yuan has passed a special budget of NT$200 million (US$6.6 million) to help manufacturers build up capacity quickly. This is in anticipation of a drastic increase in demand for surgical and N95 respirator masks due to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.
Minister of Economic Affairs (MOEA) Shen Jong-Chin (沈榮津) has visited manufacturers to hammer out plans to speed up production. This will include procuring new equipment.
The budget will be quickly allocated to 60 newly added production lines and is set to add 3 million masks per day within three weeks, in the first stage. The second stage will add 6 million masks per day within five weeks, bringing the daily capacity up to 10 million masks in March.
Manufacturers are also being encouraged to boost production of child-size surgical masks, as the majority of elementary schools are slated to open on Feb. 11.