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Use masks with ‘good filtration capability’ amid spread of more infectious Covid-19 strains: MOH

SINGAPORE — The Government is recommending the public to use masks with "good filtration capability", such as single-use surgical masks or reusable ones made of at least two layers of fabric and with at least 95 per cent bacterial filtration capability.

The reusable masks issued by the People's Association and Temasek Foundation meet the recommended levels of protection, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a statement on Tuesday (May 18).

The reusable masks issued by the People's Association and Temasek Foundation meet the recommended levels of protection, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a statement on Tuesday (May 18).

  • Single-use or reusable masks with at least two layers of fabric and at least 95 per cent bacterial filtration capability are recommended
  • Such masks will help to mitigate the increased risks of transmission and infection, the Ministry of Health said
  • The ministry and the Health Sciences Authority will be giving updated guidelines to help the public choose masks with proper protection


SINGAPORE — The Government is recommending the public to use masks with "good filtration capability", such as single-use surgical masks or reusable ones made of at least two layers of fabric and with at least 95 per cent bacterial filtration capability.

The reusable masks issued by the People's Association and Temasek Foundation meet the recommended levels of protection, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a statement on Tuesday (May 18). 

The use of masks continues to be one of the key public health strategies in preventing disease by reducing the expulsion and transmission of droplets, MOH said.

The ministry and the Health Sciences Authority will be providing updated guidelines to help members of the public choose masks with adequate protection.

On the new recommendations on masks, MOH said: “The recent clusters suggest a higher level of transmission, likely attributed to new virus variants. A mask with better protection, such as those with better filtration efficiency, will help to mitigate the increased risks of transmission and infection.” 

Single-use masks would typically report their filtration efficiency as part of their product specifications, it said.  

Reusable masks, however, might have a certain shelf life, such as only having a high level of filtration efficiency of up to 30 washes and they may need to be replaced later.

Speaking at a press conference by the multi-ministry task force handling the Covid-19 pandemic, MOH’s director of medical services Kenneth Mak reminded the public that disposable masks also have a certain lifespan.  

Associate Professor Mak added that the task force continues to discourage the use of masks with exhalation vents, which might be suitable when there is haze, for example. Users of such masks may emit sprays of microbes if they sneeze or cough while wearing the mask.  

Healthcare workers who have higher risk exposure, however, will continue to wear masks of the highest standard, such as the N95 mask. 

The Government said that it is working to ensure that businesses selling or importing masks are aware of the guidelines so that masks made available to the public are of adequate and reasonable quality.

Speaking also at the press conference, Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong said that Singapore already has local capabilities to produce surgical masks and is  looking at ramping up imports of surgical masks. 

He said that there is a “significant stockpile of these masks” and there was no need to panic-buy single-use surgical masks. 

“I would assure Singaporeans, there's no need to panic and no need to rush to buy additional masks to stock up masks. Just buy what you need, and the supplies will continue and this will ensure that there's sufficient supply for all of us,” he said. 

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ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY LOW YOUJIN, NABILAH AWANG, SM NAHESWARI, AND WONG PEI TING

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