So what’s the story?
Wuhan Virus: Government to distribute masks to all 1.37 million Singaporean households.
With the number of confirmed cases hitting 10 yesterday (29 Jan) and days of netizens complaining about masks going out of stocks at the retailers, the Government will be distributing 4 masks to every household in Singapore. Collection starts from 1st Feb.
Why only 4 masks per household?
Based on the latest official statistics, the average household size in Singapore is 3.24 as of 2018.
Health experts here have said that there is no community spread of the virus here, so there is no need for people who are well to wear masks.
Therefore, four masks per family should be enough, since it’s unlikely for everyone to be sick.
If there are a number of people who are unwell in the same family and there is concern, they can call for assistance and help, and dedicated ambulances will be activated if necessary.
The nuts and bolts
About 5.2 million masks will be given out and collection will start progressively from Saturday (Feb 1), at the 89 community centres (CC) and 654 residents’ committee (RC) centres.
- They should all be handed out by Feb 9.
- The masks are free and can be collected only once for each household.
- Those collecting have to bring along their identity card.
- The masks will be made available progressively at the 89 community centres (CCs) and 654 Residents’ Committee (RC) Centres.
Priority will be given to areas with a high number of vulnerable residents, rental block residents and Pioneer Generation members.
To collect the masks, residents will have to bring along their NRIC for verification.
More information regarding the mask distribution can be found on RC notice boards, digital display panels and social media platforms.
What are the critics saying?
Some people are complaining about why only 4 masks per household. See explanation above.
“How can gahmen assume 4 is enough for all. I got 7 people at home.”
“Should use registry of births and death records data as of 311219 to determine number of mask per household.”
And some are saying why not place the masks into the letterboxes? Why make people queue and create crowd at the collection centres?
“Wouldn’t be better to have SingPost distribute in each letterbox ? This ensures each household gets it ?”
“What about those elderly… Living alone… Also get 4 masks wor…”
If parents n immediate families live together, where got enu mask for the family under one roof
Well, doing it the “self collect” way can make sure all who want and need will receive. There is merit to have it centralised to ration stocks so that there is no wastage.
(Yes! Some households would already have masks and won’t need more)
Has anything like this happened before?
The SAF did a similar exercise during the haze crisis in 2013. Back then, over one million masks were given out through grassroots channels.
SARS? What SARS?
Yes, SARS – a respiratory virus that infected more than 8,000 people and killed nearly 800 in the early 2000s. It, too, is believed to have emerged from wildlife in China and spread to humans, spanning almost 30 countries.
SARS lasted for months, and Singapore was not spared. Back in 2003, the SARS coronavirus infected 238 people in Singapore and killed 33, including doctors and healthcare workers.
Does Singapore have enough stock for masks?
Over the past nine days, the Government has already released 5 million masks to retailers.
For this mass distribution to over 1.3 million households, about 5.2 million masks will be given out this way.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) has said that there are enough masks here for those who need it, so we should be all right if we act sensibly and responsibly. Yes, guys, do not hoard.
Priorities of resupply will be to medical institutions.
The MOH said that we will need to manage our supply of masks to ensure that healthcare workers and the most vulnerable in society are well taken care of.
“If we do not manage the private utilisation rate and prioritise allocation, we can end up in a situation where we deprive essential health services of masks as well as those who really need it.”Ministry of Health, Jan 30
There is now a global shortage of masks and some places like Taiwan have started to restrict the export of masks. We should be prepared that the situation may get more challenging. But the authorities are sourcing for new mask suppliers and ramping up new supplies from traditional suppliers.
Wear a mask only if you are sick. Masks protect others from catching the virus if you are ill.
The government will distribute 5.2 million masks to 1.37 million Singaporean households. This will ensure all Singaporeans have access to masks when they are ill and need to wear a mask.
There are sufficient stocks of surgical masks if we use them responsibly.
Don’t hoard or bulk-buy, kays?