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Homeland Security

China-made masks sold in rationing program can be exchanged (update)

ROC Central News Agency

09/04/2020 09:11 PM

(Updated to reflect government reversal on where masks can be exchanged)

Taipei, Sept. 4 (CNA) Consumers who have purchased China-made masks through the government's surgical face mask rationing program can return them starting Friday, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said.

Tsai Shou-chuan (蔡壽洤), a health official and head of the CECC division responsible for materials and supplies, said the masks, which have a "Carry Mask" logo can be returned and swapped for masks made in Taiwan.

The exchanges can be done until Sept. 11 at national health insurance-contracted pharmacies and clinics, major convenience stores, drugstore chain Cosmed, and supermarket chain PX Mart, the CECC said earlier Friday.

Tsai later reversed course, however, saying that exchanges could only be made through national health insurance-contracted pharmacies and clinics because private retailers did not have enough masks on hand to provide replacements to consumers.

People only need to bring the masks imported by Taiwanese mask manufacturer Carry Mask to get replacements, Tsai said. They do not need to present their national health insurance cards, which are required to buy rationed masks.

Carry Mask also issued a statement saying that consumers who have purchased their masks online or at the company's offices can return them with proof of purchase.

Anybody who purchased the masks from wholesalers or retailers can return them through the businesses they purchased the masks from, said the statement, which was posted by New Taipei's Department of Health.

The issue came to light after a pharmacist in New Taipei discovered Wednesday that a shipment from Taiwanese manufacturer Carry Mask contained a package labeled "Made in Anhui" in Simplified Chinese characters.

The finding was reported to the New Taipei City Pharmacists Association, which then notified the FDA, said Chih Lan-hui (遲蘭慧), director of the agency's Division of Quality Compliance and Management.

After receiving the tip, the FDA, Ministry of Justice and New Taipei City Department of Health sent teams to conduct an overnight audit of the company's factory in New Taipei's Bali District.

An investigation revealed that the company had imported some 3.37 million non-medical grade surgical face masks from China during the month of August, then relabeled and repackaged them for use in the government's surgical face mask ration program.

(By William Yen, Chang Ming-hsuan and Sunrise Huang)


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