Beginning February, the Government says 1.3 million households in Singapore would each receive four surgical masks. Representatives of the households need to present their identity card (NRIC) to their respective community centers (CC) to collect the masks.
As for those living in Housing Development Board (HDB) flats, the masks are available for collection from residents’ committee (RC) between 1 to 5 February. Meanwhile, those living in housing estates as well those who are not able to collect their masks elsewhere would be able to do so at their local CC’s.
Meanwhile, the government will deliver masks to those who are vulnerable and unable to collect the masks by themselves.
This action by the government is necessitated by the global shortage for new masks, and the government is bent on sourcing out suppliers to ensure there is a sufficient amount throughout the country.
While these masks are due to be given out, the government says it has also already released 5 million masks to retailers.
The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has been working tirelessly packaging these masks for the public and the People’s Association (PA) would administer its distribution.
A report by the Straits Times (ST), quoted Health Authorities saying that as there is no community spread of the virus in Singapore, the need to wear masks by healthy people does not arise. Therefore the four masks per household ratio should suffice.
However, authorities do request concerned families who have more than one person unwell to seek immediate medical assistance. A readily available ambulance service is always there to assist them.
It is also worth noting that soiled or stained masks are not recommended to be used more than 24 hours.
To the government’s initiatives in trying to keep the public safe, online users have offered an assortment of reactions as recorded in the comment section of the Straits Times’ Facebook page.
A large number of netizens repeated requested the government to send the surgical masks via post. This is so that the public can avoid being part of a crowd given that the authorities have advised them to stay away from crowded places.
This is echoed in Facebook user Jasmine Lim’s comment.
“Why can’t Sing post deliver the 4 masks to out letter box? This will minimize the need to queue and people who have difficulties going out to queue can still get it from their mailbox”.
A number of online users added that they are afraid of going out to public spaces as the coronavirus is easily transmittable via contact. They explained that it’s too risky to queue up to collect the masks as they might increase their chances of contracting the deadly Wuhan virus.
On the flipside, the government’s initiative of providing 4 surgical masks for each household is considered too little for big families. Many of them pointed out that they have more than 4 family members in each house so the amount distributed by the government is insufficient.
Calling the government “cheapskate”, a few online users said that the government might as well not distribute the free masks due to the low quantity.
However, there are also netizens who appreciate the government’s efforts and expressed their gratitude. They highlighted that they are relieved to hear that the government is giving out free masks as they are not available in stores.