Taiwanese health officials wore pink face masks at a regular press conference on Monday in response to complaints that the colour sparked bullying in schools.

Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung, who led the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) briefing, said some male students had refused to wear pink face masks to school for fear of being ridiculed by classmates.

Taiwan’s Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (centre). Photo: Taiwan Central Epidemic Control Centre.

Flanked by four other officials, Chen said the colour of masks did not matter, adding that when he was young he enjoyed watching The Pink Panther cartoon.

The comments came as Taiwan reported an additional five coronavirus cases on Monday, all imported, driving its total to 393. 114 patients have been released from isolation while the remainder continue to be hospitalised, according to authorities.

Six deaths related to the virus have been recorded since February, though – in a sign of the pandemic slowing – the island reported zero new cases on Tuesday.

First detected in China’s Hubei province, Covid-19 has infected more than 1,920,000 people globally, leading to more than 119,600 deaths as of Tuesday morning.

The island is one of the largest manufacturers of face masks worldwide, though the government has imposed restrictions on sending masks abroad due to limited domestic supplies. Citizens can send up to 30 masks to relatives abroad every two months.

Under a rationing scheme, locals are able to purchase a maximum of nine adult masks and 10 children masks per fortnight. The quota, which came into effect last Thursday, marked an increase from three adult masks and five children masks per week.

Jennifer Creery

Jennifer Creery is a Hong Kong-born British journalist, interested in minority rights and urban planning. She holds a BA in English at King's College London and has studied Mandarin at National Taiwan University.