Taipei, April 9 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Thursday that Taiwan has launched another round of donations of surgical face masks to countries severely affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, including some listed in its New Southbound Policy, European nations, and countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The decision follows the offer of a total of 10 million masks to Taiwan’s 15 diplomatic allies, 11 European countries, and the United States, which is currently being carried out, MOFA spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said at a regular press conference.
In the second round of donations, a total of six million surgical face masks will be sent to European Union member states, some U.S. states that are in dire need of personal protective equipment, some Latin American and Caribbean countries, and several countries covered by the Taiwan government’s New Southbound Policy, according to Ou.
“Under the slogan of ‘Taiwan can help, and Taiwan is helping,’ our government and people will continue to participate in international affairs through concrete actions,” Ou said.
The donations of surgical face masks will help frontline health workers in the recipient countries to combat the coronavirus, she said.
MOFA, however, did not name the countries or say how many masks each one will receive and when the shipments will go out.
A source familiar with the matter told CNA that the Philippines is expected to be given a large percentage of the masks, in view of its population size, the state of the coronavirus outbreak there, and its close people-to-people ties with Taiwan.
According to the source, MOFA must first obtain permission from Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to ship millions of surgical masks out of the country because they are considered a “strategic medical resource.”
All of the arrangements are expected to be completed within a week or two, the source said, citing shipping difficulties due to a paralyzed air transportation industry worldwide.
In the first round of mask donations, the shipments to Taiwan’s 15 diplomatic allies were dispatched recently, while those to the Netherlands arrived on April 7, according to MOFA.
Also in the first round, the shipments to other European countries such as Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and the Vatican, began Wednesday in the hope that they will arrive before the end of the week, MOFA said, noting that World health Day was on April 7.
Among the countries that will receive the mask donations are some covered under Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy, which extends to the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as well as India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Australia, and New Zealand, according to MOFA.