- The Straits Times
This story was updated on Thursday (Jan 30).
Amid online panic that surgical face masks have sold out at stores in Singapore, the Government has announced on Thursday (Jan 30) that it is distributing four masks to every household here between Feb 1 and Feb 9.
According to HealthHub, such masks can only be used once – for eight hours at most – and must be disposed of afterwards.
According to a Facebook post by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the masks will be given out at all community centres (CC) and residents’ committee (RC) centres.
Yesterday, we activated the SAF, The People's Association and other agencies to start preparing masks in special packs…
They can only be collected only once per household, and those collecting them must bring their IC along. Volunteers will deliver masks to vulnerable individuals who cannot collect them.
According to a Straits Times report, households living in HDB flats can collect the masks at RCs between Feb 1 and Feb 5, and from CCs from Feb 5 to Feb 9.
Those living in private housing can collect them from CCs from Feb 5 to Feb 9.
The PM wrote on Facebook: “I understand your concerns and frustrations about not being able to get masks at retail stores, given the recent rush all over Singapore to buy them. 5 million masks have been released to retailers in the past 9 days but demand has been higher than anticipated.”
Apart from the PM, three other ministers also took to Facebook to update the public about the masks, with all of them calling for people to avoid wearing masks uncecessarily if they were not ill.
Deputy Prime Minister Keng Swee Keat explained that the 5 million masks released from the national stockpile to retailers had been rapidly bought up, resulting in many households still unable to get any.
Masks have been on the minds of many Singaporeans in recent days. Social responsibility is critical to contain the…
National Development Minister Lawrence Wong added that these masks had been “snapped up in hours”, prompting the Government to change the way it was releasing further stocks.
“We will prioritise the national stockpile of masks for essential services, namely our healthcare workers at the frontline,” the minister said.
“For the general public we will release masks from the national stockpile directly to Singaporeans… We are doing this to assure all Singaporeans that if any member of the family falls sick and needs a mask, they will have one at hand.”
“Keep this as a precaution and use the masks only if someone in the family falls sick and needs to go out to see the doctor,” he added.
<Masks for all Households; Use Responsibly>We have sufficient masks in the national stockpile if everyone uses them…
Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing acknowledged that it was “natural” for people to hoard masks during the crisis, but asked citizens to spare a thought for frontline healthcare workers and vulnerable individuals who were at highest risk of contracting the virus.
He said: “By providing each household with their own set of masks, we hope to address concerns about the purchase of masks and allow our supplies to return to normalcy.”
The minister added that authorities were working to investigate retailers who had jacked up the price of masks, including sellers on Lazada, Carousell, and Qoo100.
He also said the Government was working to secure new supplies – and suppliers – of masks and hand sanitisers.
But the minister warned that there was keen competition from other nations for the items, adding that many global suppliers had either banned exports, or were prioritising sales to China.
During a media conference with Minister Lawrence Wong this afternoon, we announced that the Government will issue four…