• Kyodo


Fukui Prefecture began selling masks via numbered tickets Friday to ensure all 320,000 households get an equal opportunity to buy them amid the national shortage caused by the coronavirus, it said.

Under Fukui’s program, the first of its kind in Japan, people will eventually be able to buy up to two packs of 50 unwoven masks by presenting their ticket to any of Genky DrugStores Co.’s 64 outlets. For now, purchases are being limited to one pack per household until May 4 so more people can acquire them, it said.

The drug store chain is procuring the masks from the prefectural government, which has 420,000 packs in stock.

The nationwide shortage, however, continues. The two masks per person being supplied by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s coronavirus initiative have yet to arrive in many parts of the nation since deliveries began last week. Moreover, some of them have been recalled following complaints of defects.

Hiroko Sasahara, 72, who took her ticket to a store in the town of Eiheiji, said she was relieved to finally get ahold of some masks.

“I will keep some for myself, and I want to send the rest to my daughter working outside the prefecture and my grandchild,” she said.

Fukui has been preparing to procure more masks to ensure all who want to use the tickets can get at least two packs, said an official in charge of the program.

The masks have been in scarce supply since the pneumonia-causing virus triggered panic-buying.

In Taiwan, the government purchased masks and allowed people to buy a specified amount by showing their insurance cards at designated drugstores, a system that has helped curb the run on masks.

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