Coronavirus: 500,000 surgical masks offered in Canada by Taiwan


Taiwan has officially donated 500,000 surgical masks needed by healthcare workers on the front lines of the new coronavirus pandemic.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer released a photo of him accepting the masks on Tuesday at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Canada, thanking Taiwan for its “generous donation.”

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A spokesperson for the office confirmed that the handover took place on Monday.

The masks arrived in separate consignments from Taipei between April 24 and April 28, and officials from the Public Health Agency of Canada then spent “a few days” performing compliance tests to ensure that they could be used, said the spokesperson.

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A press release from the Taipei office on April 28 announcing the donation indicates that 400,000 of the masks will go to the Canadian Red Cross, which will distribute them to hospitals, front-line workers and indigenous communities.

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Of the rest, 50,000 masks will be sent to Ontario, while Alberta and British Columbia will each receive 25,000. The office said the premiers have formally requested deliveries.

Office representative Ambassador Winston Wen-yi Chen said in the statement that the donation was a chance for Taiwan to “reach out to front-line medical staff in Canada”.

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Canada continues to order Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) around the world, particularly from Chinese suppliers, to supplement its strategic national emergency stock and distribute supplies across the country.

According to Public Services and Procurement Canada, the government has ordered 327.5 million surgical masks. As of April 30, Canada had received just under 26 million of these masks, which are subject to the same tests as those in Taiwan.

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According to PSPC, nearly 1.5 billion other combined PPE supplies have also been ordered, and more than 20 million have been received.

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Taiwan has reported far fewer cases of coronavirus than many of its neighbors, thanks to early and effective detection and prevention work.

However, Taiwan continues to be prevented from joining the World Health Organization by China, which considers the island to be one of its provinces.

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Taiwan argues that its exclusion, even as an observer at WHO meetings, has created a dangerous gap in the fight against the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the state has said it will continue to donate supplies wherever possible.

“Taiwan can help and Taiwan can help,” said Chen.

“We will only win this fight against COVID-19 by working together.”

– With Reuters files

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