Taiwan gov’t includes foreign nationals in mask rationing amid nCoV outbreak

Marje Pelayo   •   February 6, 2020   •   923

TAIWAN — Filipinos working and living in the country are now allowed to purchase surgical masks under a new system imposed by the National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA).

The new rationing system which starts at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday (February 6), allows all foreign nationals to use their national health insurance (NHI) cards or other forms of ID to obtain surgical face masks as protection against potential infection with the 2019 novel coronavirus .

Meanwhile, foreign nationals who do not have an NHI card can also purchase surgical masks by presenting a valid Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) or entry permit.

Under the new rationing system, Taiwan nationals and foreigners will be allowed to buy two masks per week based on the last digit of the ID number on the holder’s NHI card, ARC or entry permit.

Schedule of mask purchase will be as follows:

  • Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays – ID numbers ending with odd digit
  • Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays – ID numbers ending with even digit
  • Sundays – All Taiwan nationals and foreigners

The price of each surgical mask remains at NT$5 (US$0.16 or PHP8.50), according to NHIA, and will only be available in 6,000 drugstores and pharmacies contracted by the agency which are identifiable by the NHI logo on the storefront.

According to NHIA records, there are 50,000 foreign nationals in Taiwan who do not have NHI coverage.

These include students and other foreign residents who have been in Taiwan for less than six months; foreign or migrant workers who have not acquired their Alien Resident Certificates (ARCs); Chinese students who are not eligible for NHI coverage; and some foreign diplomats who have not enrolled in the NHI system.

The mask rationing program is Taiwan government’s latest effort to guarantee sufficient supply of masks in the country amid the outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that has infected thousands in China and has spread to more than 28 countries across the globe.

BI warns foreign nationals against fake immigration services

Marje Pelayo   •   July 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has warned the public against a circulating document from a Philippine-based company that is allegedly charging money to its employees, who are foreign nationals, for extra services that provide immigration assistance.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said he was able to obtain a copy of the said document which shows a breakdown of fees in exchange for immigration airport assistance.

Morente said based on the document, the company allegedly charged the following services with a hefty amount:
P5,000 for Airport Assistance Fee
P5,000 for processing fee
P20,000 for a Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Invitation Letter

“It seems that this company is using the name of government agencies to be able to charge such high rates to its employees,” he added.

The BI chief reiterated that the agency does not collect any ‘immigration assistance’ fees from foreign nationals.

The Immigration Bureau earlier released several advisories warning the public about individuals pretending to be BI employees involved in such fraudulent activities.

“Be wary of falling prey to these scammers. Immediately report to the authorities if you encounter such a modus,” Morente said, adding that they are now studying possible legal actions against said company.

Taiwan extends COVID-19 Alert Level 3 until June 14

Marje Pelayo   •   May 26, 2021

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Schools as well as public and business venues will remain closed until June 14 amid a fresh surge of COVID-19 cases in the country.

Only essential service providers will be allowed to open, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced Wednesday (May 26).

The directive followed the extension of Alert Level 3 in the country’s COVID Four-Level Alert System as more and more domestic transmission is being reported.

Restaurants and other food businesses are expected to bear the brunt of the new restriction as they are forced to close for more weeks.

On Tuesday (May 25), the CECC recorded a total of 544 cases of COVID-19 infection including two imported cases.

Currently, Taiwan has administered around 311,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines.

In a post on Twitter, President Tsai Ing-Wen said more doses are expected to arrive in the country in the coming days.

Specifically, Taiwan is expecting around two million doses of COVID-19 vaccine next month while an additional 10 million doses are coming in August. MNP (with reports from Amiel Pascual)

Taiwan issues epidemic prevention guidelines amid surge in COVID-19 cases

Marje Pelayo   •   May 20, 2021

Various government agencies in Taiwan gathered to formulate and implement a set of guidelines for the protection of its workers amid the surge of COVID-19 cases in the country.

At present, the total domestic cases of COVID-19 in Taiwan reached 959 on May 15, according to the country’s Central Epidemic Command Center.

Thus, concerned government agencies agreed to impose stricter crowd control, restrictions in group activities and intensify foreign migrant workers management.

“The government of Taiwan has always taken the focus of giving a response and remaining cautious amidst the crisis. We are also paying very close attention to any latest change because we understand that our industry is playing a critical role in the global supply chain,” said Spokesperson of the Executive Yuan Luo Bing-cheng.

In response to this, the national government of Taiwan directed all companies in the country to create their respective epidemic response teams that will oversee, monitor and assure the strict implementation of epidemic prevention measures.

Also, the number of guests will be limited in factories and areas with a high number of COVID-cases.

Control flow will be placed in buildings and public spaces will be temporarily closed.

All meetings will be held through video conferencing to avoid physical contact.

Given the situation, the Ministry of Economic Affairs is confident that Taiwan’s semiconductor industry remains stable.

“We are confident that with our past years experience controlling the pandemic and also with increased medical resources and better informed public we will be able to fight this critical fight if we work in unity,” Lou Bing-cheng noted.

From Wednesday (May 19) to June 18, Taiwan’s borders will be closed to international arrivals except for citizens and legal residents.

This measure prompted the Ministry of Labor to allow employers to extend the permit of migrant workers under their care to three months more. MNP (with reports from Amiel Pascual)

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