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Covid-19: Nearly 3 million free reusable masks given to S’pore households so far

SINGAPORE — A total of 2.98 million reusable face masks had been given out to households to help stem the spread of Covid-19 as of 4pm on Tuesday (April 7), said the People’s Association.

Covid-19: Nearly 3 million free reusable masks given to S’pore households so far

Members of the public queuing up to collect reuseable masks at Chong Pang community centre on April 5, 2020.

SINGAPORE — A total of 2.98 million reusable face masks had been given out to households to help stem the spread of Covid-19 as of 4pm on Tuesday (April 7), said the People’s Association.

Tuesday was the third day of the distribution exercise, which started on Sunday. The masks are being given out at community centres and residents’ committees until April 12, similar to how disposable surgical masks were given out in February.

The move comes after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Friday that the Government would no longer discourage people from wearing masks, even if they are not showing symptoms of sickness, because evidence has shown that an infected person can show no symptoms and yet still pass on the virus to others.

On weekdays, residents will be able to collect their masks from 3pm to 9pm daily and on weekends, they may do so from 10am to 9pm.

More details on collection dates and venues can be found on www.maskgowhere.gov.sg.

A woman having her temperature taken while queuing up to collect reuseable masks at Chong Pang community centre on April 5, 2020. Photo: Ooi Boon Keong/TODAY

A Yew Tee resident, who wanted to be known only as Mr Lim, was among those Singaporeans who collected the masks — made from a washable tough cotton fabric — on the first day of the exercise.

The 28-year-old said he was collecting the masks on behalf of his parents and his younger sister.

“It’s good that we have something we can reuse,” said Mr Lim. “But what if my mask is in the wash and I need to go out to buy food or something?”

Mr Lim said he has had little luck buying disposable masks from either the Guardian or Watson’s healthcare and beauty stores, however he heard the household products chain, Venus Beauty, had them in stock.

Indeed, TODAY saw boxes of surgical masks stacked at the cashier’s counter at the Venus Beauty outlets at Tampines Mall and Changi City Point on Sunday afternoon — though at that time, no shoppers appeared to be taking much interest in them.

Nursing student Siti Rahmah, 22, said it would not be hygienic to wear the reusable masks everyday, but she had no intention of buying the disposable versions as she already had a box at home.

Mr Revin Tan, however, felt that the reusable masks are sufficient for his family’s needs.

Mr Tan said that with the “circuit breaker” measures, which started on Tuesday, there will be very little reason to leave the house as most workplaces, except those providing essential services, would be shut down.

“It will only be necessary for us to use it if we go to the supermarket to buy things,” said the 27-year-old who works in the IT sector.

Members of the public queuing up to collect reuseable masks at Chong Pang community centre on Feb 5, 2020. Photo: Ooi Boon Keong/TODAY

Responding to TODAY’s queries, a spokesperson from Watsons said that the Covid-19 outbreak had resulted in a dearth of surgical mask supplies in the market generally, as many countries were scrambling to secure sources for their markets.

“We are hoping to secure some supplies in the coming weeks,” said the spokesperson.

TODAY has sought comment from Guardian.

DIY MASKS ARE PROVING POPULAR

Meanwhile, a growing number of Singaporeans have taken to making their own masks.

Applauding this trend was Temasek chief executive Ho Ching, who said in a Facebook post on April 1 that hospital grade surgical masks are not required for use by the general public, as the “chances of meeting a really sick patient are low”.

She said these surgical masks should be saved for healthcare workers.

“Any masks will be better than no masks — however low the risk, a mask can help lower it further by a little bit,” said Madam Ho, who is also the wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Among this do-it-yourself group is Ms Alexis Hong, a 36-year-old mother of four.

Ms Hong, who helps out in her family’s business, said that while she appreciated that the Government was giving out the reusable masks, she wished that it had been done sooner.

“It may have reduced some of the panic buying of surgical masks if it were made clear that we should be reserving those for medical personnel, as has been communicated now,” she said.

 

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