May 08, 2020 13:28
The government will stockpile 100 million face masks to prepare for a second wave of coronavirus but will also send them to about 70 countries in need.
"We've already allocated the budget necessary to stock up 100 million masks," Minister of Food and Drug Safety Lee Eui-kyung said Thursday.
"Some 70 countries have officially asked us to send masks," Lee added. "We're planning to send them in order of precedence if they meet standards for humanitarian aid."
She added the plan has "widespread public support."
There are four assistance categories -- difficulties implementing quarantine measures due to a spike in infections; difficulties controlling supply and demand of masks; diplomatic and security concerns; and international organizations and aid agencies and foreign businesses.
"From now on, businesses can buy and send masks to foreign countries for humanitarian purposes after obtaining government approval," Lee said.
Until now the government has banned bulk purchases of masks for any purpose.
The Foreign Ministry said the 70-odd countries include the U.S. and European nations, but China is not on the list because it is considered a mask supplier in its own right, and Japan has made no request.
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