A factory that produces masks featuring the Taiwanese flag, as well as ordinary surgical masks, has tripled production as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, according to comments made by the facility’s general manager in Taoyuan City on Thursday.

“Since the government started to requisition face masks at the end of January, our daily production has increased threefold, from 500,000 to 1.5 million. Our production hours also increased from 20 hours to 24 hours,” said Taiwan Comfort Champ General Manager Andy Chen.

One of the company’s main products has been a face mask with the Taiwanese flag. These masks became hotly discussed on social media as people online theorized that the design was intended to dissuade mainland Chinese customers from buying up Taiwanese stock; however, as Chen makes clear the masks were in fact produced for different reasons.

“We were making Taiwan flag face masks last year, in 2019, ahead of the elections. It didn’t sell very well then, but it exploded in popularity since this epidemic began,” said Chen.

To tackle mask shortages, Taiwan’s government reportedly banned exports and requisitioned all domestic production of surgical masks since late January.  Working around the clock, mask producers are reportedly expected to produce about 12 million masks by mid-March.

“I gradually came to understand and appreciate the actions the government has taken, including the export ban and requisitioning. If they didn’t do that, we would have a mask shortage today,” Chan added.