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The Effect of a Name-Based Mask Rationing Plan in Taiwan on Public Anxiety Regarding a Mask Shortage During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Observational Study

  • Tai, Yu-Lin1
  • Chi, Hsin2, 3
  • Chiu, Nan-Chang2, 3
  • Tseng, Cheng-Yin1, 4
  • Huang, Ya-Ning2
  • Lin, Chien-Yu1, 3
  • 1 Department of Pediatrics and Infectious Disease, Hsinchu
  • 2 Department of Pediatrics and Infectious Disease, Taipei
  • 3 Department of Medicine, New Taipei
  • 4 Graduate Institute of Chinese Medicine, School of Chinese Medicine, Taichung
Published Article
JMIR Formative Research
JMIR Publications
Publication Date
Jan 22, 2021
DOI: 10.2196/21409
PMID: 33400678
PMCID: PMC7837388
PubMed Central
External links


Background The COVID-19 pandemic is a severe global health crisis. Wearing a mask is a straightforward action that can be taken, but shortage of stock and equity of allocation were important issues in Taiwan. Furthermore, increased anxiety leading to the stockpiling of masks has been common during the pandemic. Objective We aim to summarize the name-based mask rationing plan implemented in Taiwan and explore the public’s perceived anxiety about mask shortages. Methods The government of Taiwan took action to control the supply and allocation of face masks. We summarize the timeline and important components of the mask rationing plan. A survey that aimed to investigate the overall response to the mask rationing plan was answered by 44 participants. Results The mask rationing plan was implemented in late January 2020. Daily production capacity was increased from 2 million masks to 16 million masks in April 2020. People could buy 9 masks in 14 days by verification via their National Health Insurance card. Digital face mask availability maps were created. Moreover, the mask plan safeguarded the purchase of masks and resulted in decreased anxiety about a mask shortage (4.05 [SD 1.15] points; 72.7% [n=32] of participants answered “agree” or “strongly agree”). The majority of people felt that the mask plan was satisfactory (4.2 [SD 0.92] points; 79.5% [n=35] of participants answered “agree” or “strongly agree”). Conclusions We found that the unique name-based mask rationing plan allowed for control of the production and supply of masks, and contributed to the appropriate allocation of masks. The mask rationing plan not only provided the public with physical protection, but also resulted in reduced anxiety about mask shortages during the pandemic.

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