MASK SYSTEM REDUX:
The test kits are to be sold at NHI-contracted pharmacies, as well as health centers in remote areas, with purchase days set by health card number
By Lee I-chia / Staff reporter
A real-name rationing scheme for rapid COVID-19 test kits is to start today at pharmacies contracted to the government nationwide, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday.
In each round of the scheme, an individual can purchase a pack of five rapid test kits for NT$500 on presentation of their National Health Insurance (NHI) or residency card, the center said.
Given the rise in domestic COVID-19 infections and demand for rapid test kits, the center has introduced real-name rationing for the products, similar to the real-name rationing scheme used for masks soon after the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, said that the test kits are to be available for purchase at any of the nation’s 4,909 NHI-contracted pharmacies, as well as at 58 public health centers in remote areas.
In each round, people can use their NHI or residency card to buy one pack, as well as one pack for a friend or family member, by presenting their card, although each additional pack must be bought in a separate purchase, Chen said.
No one can present several cards at once to purchase multiple packs, because that would be unfair to people waiting in line, he said.
In the first round, 50 million test kits, or 10 million packs, are to be sold, so people do not have to rush to pharmacies during the first few days, Chen said.
Similar to the rationing scheme for masks, people whose identification cards end in an even number can purchase test kits on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, while those whose identification cards end in an odd number can purchase kits on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, he said, adding that anyone can make a purchase on Sundays.
There are two other ways to get test kits: Government-subsidized test kits are given to people being treated for COVID-19 and people instructed to isolate, and test kits are still to be sold at convenience stores, supermarkets and chain drug stores, he said.
As the test kits are considered medical devices, they cannot be returned or exchanged after purchase, the center said.
Details on the rationing scheme and a list of NHI-contracted pharmacies can be found on the Web sites of the National Health Insurance Administration, the Food and Drug Administration and the Federation of Taiwan Pharmacists’ Associations.
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