The government is to establish a dedicated center to improve disease prevention, injecting NT$4 billion (US$132.88 million) over the next seven years into the project, Executive Yuan spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka said yesterday.
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on Wednesday approved a Ministry of Health and Welfare proposal to build a center for disease prevention, which is to be in the ministry’s compounds in Taipei’s Nangang District (南港), with construction scheduled to begin next year and be completed in 2027, Kolas said.
The center would fight known viruses and communicable diseases, with key tasks including inspection efforts, and research and development of vaccines and biopharmaceuticals, Kolas said, adding that it would also serve as a hub to ration out goods during epidemics.
Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times
Starting next year, costs would be included in annual funds for general public affairs, Kolas said, adding that no special funds would be used for the project.
In other developments, a Cabinet official said that from Wednesday next week, people would be able to preorder their two-weekly quota of masks at the nation’s four major convenience store chains.
People would be able to preorder masks every two weeks at FamilyMart, 7-Eleven, OK Mart and Hi-Life convenience stores using their National Health Insurance (NHI) cards, the official said.
They would also be able to have masks delivered to Pxmart or Simple Mart outlets, but the supermarket chains cannot take orders, as they do not have NHI card readers, the official said.
Payment methods for the store system have yet to be determined, the official said.
Convenience store services are expected to ease congestion at NHI-affiliated pharmacies, where people usually have to wait in long lines to buy masks.
The Cabinet official said that 240 of the more than 6,000 designated pharmacies have asked to withdraw from the program because they do not have enough staff to handle daily sales.
Since the mask rationing program started on Jan. 31, the quota for each person has been increased from two to three per seven days and then to nine per 14 days, with the sales platform expanding from pharmacies to a government Web site and a mobile app.
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