‘A friend indeed’: Taiwan donates 60,000 face masks to St Lucia

#TaiwanCanHelp is one way the Asian island is using its own success in combating the coronavirus pandemic to shore up geopolitical allies around the world. (Photo: Facebook @AllenMChastenet)

St Lucia’s national response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was once again bolstered by a charitable donation from the Government of Taiwan, which donated 60,000 face masks to the island on Thursday (May 21).

Just a day after congratulating Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and lauding the friendly relations between the two islands, Prime Minister Allen Chastenet said the latest stockpile will help greatly in the government’s efforts to combat COVID-19.

“A key strategy which forms part of our COVID-19 Response, is stockpiling as much Personal Protective Equipment as possible. Thank you to our friends from Taiwan for your continuous support. This latest donation of 60,000 face masks is greatly appreciated,” he wrote on his official Facebook page.

It’s the second donation in as many months by Taiwan as the island takes an unconventional approach to its exclusion from the World Health Organisation (WHO): being kind to nations who need it.

Sparking a campaign called #TaiwanCanHelp, officials in the Asian country have turned its own successes against the coronavirus into a geopolitical win – and have sent are sending millions of masks, emblazoned with the words “made in Taiwan,” to the United States, Italy and other countries hit hard by the COVID-19.

Earlier in April, Taiwan shipped 40,000 face masks, six sets of thermal imaging body temperature detection systems and several forehead thermometers to St Lucia, a gesture that was greatly appreciated by PM Chastenet.

The kindness found its way to other grateful Caribbean nations, including St Kitts and Nevis, Haiti, St Vincent and the Grenadines as well as Belize.

St Lucia has not had an active case of COVID-19 in the last 18 days consecutively, and all 18 confirmed patients have recovered as the island looks to reopen its international borders in June.

The country, according to the #TaiwanCanHelp website, having been isolated from the World Health Organization, is reassuring its allies that they are not alone.

“That is why we are contributing to international efforts by sharing how we have contained the outbreak, kept our schools and businesses open, and ensured masks for all. In the past weeks, Taiwan has provided more than 16 million medical masks to support medical professionals around the world and has worked together with the US and the EU on the most advanced rapid tests and vaccines for COVID-19,” the campaign explained.