Long queues were seen outside the Jien-Cheng and Hsiang-Yun pharmacies in New Taipei City on Wednesday, as local residents lined up to buy face masks amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The first COVID-19 case in Taiwan was announced in January. Some 31 people have tested positive for coronavirus as of now, with one confirmed death.

On January 24, Taiwanese authorities announced a temporary ban on the export of disposable masks in a bid to ensure a domestic supply of masks. The ban, which was originally due to end in February, has been extended until the end of April.

In February, a special mask rationing system was introduced, allowing local residents to buy only two masks per week. Upon purchase, residents are required to present their National Health Insurance cards, Alien Resident Certificates or entry permits. Residents, whose ID numbers end with an odd digit, are permitted to buy masks on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and those with even-numbered ID documents can buy masks on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

According to latest reports, the COVID-19 has claimed at least 2,700 lives and infected more than 81,000 people worldwide so far.

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