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Taiwan donating millions of masks to other countries to fight COVID-19

The Hill logo The Hill 4/1/2020 Zack Budryk
Tsai Ing-wen holding a sign: Taiwan donating millions of masks to other countries to fight COVID-19 © Getty Images Taiwan donating millions of masks to other countries to fight COVID-19

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen announced Wednesday that the nation will donate 10 million face masks to countries hit hard by the novel coronavirus.

Taiwan's production of face masks has ramped up, allowing it to donate the surplus to countries seeing surges in coronavirus cases, Tsai said in a Wednesday speech at the Presidential Office in Taipei, Focus Taiwan reported.

Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs said earlier this week that the country's daily mask output is at 13 million, more than quadrupling its average daily surgical mask output of 3.2 million in early February.

Tsai said Taiwan, which began as predominantly an importer of masks, has become the second-largest surgical mask producer in the world, and the government plans to increases its daily output even further to 15 million units.

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu did not specify when the masks would be delivered, but he said they would be donated to key diplomatic allies such as the U.S. and Western European nations, according to the publication.

Asked whether Taiwan would provide masks for China, where the virus originated and which does not formally recognize Taiwan's government, Tsai said the island will provide aid to any nation in need of help within its ability.

She added that Taiwan is also developing a rapid diagnostic test for the virus as well as possible vaccines and drug treatments.

Tsai said the nation is in negotiations with the U.S., the European Union and the Czech Republic to map out anti-viral strategies while Taiwan itself trades resources with the U.S. and Australia, according to the outlet.

The news comes as several U.S. states have raised concerns that they have been unable to procure enough personal protective equipment from federal stockpiles, with Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) saying Tuesday: "We've had to go out onto the open market to find both surgical masks and N95 masks ... and we're competing against federal government, we're competing against big states like New York and California."

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