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Homeland Security

More surgical masks seized in outbound postal packages

ROC Central News Agency

02/01/2020 04:11 PM

Taipei, Feb. 1 (CNA) Police have seized tens of thousands more surgical masks in outbound postal packages as the government continues its crackdown to keep masks in Taiwan to help combat the spread of a new strain of coronavirus.

A total of 53,995 surgical masks were found in 256 parcels addressed overseas at Chunghwa Post's mail processing center in Taipei on Friday, the Aviation Police Bureau (APB) said in a statement Saturday.

They were seized and confiscated by authorities to prevent surgical masks from being sent abroad to ensure that supply meets domestic needs first as the number of cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) continues to rise, it said.

The APB said the latest seizure came a day after a previous crackdown at the same location Thursday when police found and confiscated 30,000-plus surgical masks set to be sent abroad.

Taiwan has imposed a month-long ban on exports of surgical masks, including through the postal service, unless the exporter has received prior authorization from the Bureau of Foreign Trade under the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), the APB said.

The temporary MOEA ban on the export of "textile-based masks and those for surgical use that exceed 94 percent filtration efficiency," will remain in effect at least until Feb. 23 amid shortages of surgical masks being used to address the risk of 2019-nCoV.

The viral disease, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December, has so far affected more than 10,000 people and killed more than 250 in China.

Cases have also been reported in around 20 countries outside of China, including Taiwan, where as of early Saturday, 10 confirmed 2019-nCoV cases had been reported.

(By Wu Ruei-chi and Joseph Yeh)

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