1.3 million households across Singapore will receive four surgical masks per household from the Government starting today (1 Feb).
The masks will be distributed via 89 community centres (CC) and 654 residents’ committee (RC) centres centres 2pm starting 2pm today until next Sun (9 Feb).
Residents of Housing Development Board (HDB) flats may check their nearest designated RC centre on Maskgowhere.sg.
The masks can only be collected once per household and those collecting will have to bring along their identity card (NRIC).
For vulnerable segments of the population and residents with mobility issues who may be unable to collect them at the designated points, the government said that the masks will be delivered to said residents instead.
At the Chua Chu Kang Zone 2 RC centre around 4.49pm today, TOC observed that residents are told to follow the scheduled timing of distribution even when there is no crowd at the collection centre.
However, the RC members exercised their discretion to promptly issue the masks when residents gave their reasons for not being able to turn up on the scheduled day.
Previously, the Government said that that it has also released 5 million masks to retailers across the island, and is continuing to find sources for new mask suppliers amid a global shortage. Medical institutions will be prioritised for resupply.
Reports note that the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) have been working around the clock to pack the masks, with 1,500 servicemen working on eight-hour shifts. All masks are expected to be packed by tonight, The Straits Times reported today.
Health experts in Singapore earlier told ST that there is no need for healthy people to wear the masks, as currently there is no community spread of the Wuhan virus in Singapore.
If a family has more than one person who is unwell and they are concerned about the situation, they are encouraged to call for assistance. Authorities say a dedicated ambulance will be activated to help, according to the ST report.
In the same vein, Gov.sg also reminded the public today (1 Feb) that the masks “are for those who are sick”, and that people who are in healthy condition do not need to wear a mask.
However, the ST report highlighted that masks are not effective if soiled or stained. Additionally, it is not recommended for people to use the same mask for more than 24 hours, which means that a household of four will only be able to use the government-distributed surgical masks for a day.
Macau distributes 20 million face masks, bans tourists from Wuhan and surrounding Hubei Province last week
In Macau, officials announced plans to distribute 20 million face masks in response to a shortage affecting nearly half of the former Portuguese colony’s pharmacies, shortly after its first confirmed case on 22 Jan.
Hong Kong daily The Standard reported on 23 Jan that stocks of face masks were available in 160 of the city’s 294 pharmacies, according to the Health Bureau (SSM). However, the Macau Times Daily reported that only one out of eight masks distributors in the city still carried face mask stocks as of 22 Jan.
In the move that took effect on 24 Jan, each resident will be permitted to buy a maximum of 10 surgical masks every 10 days for only 8 patacas (S$1.36) at designated pharmacies — in partnership with public health institutions — as long as they present their Macau identity card.
Social affairs commentator Larry So Man-yum told South China Morning Post today that the Macau government’s decision to control the distribution of the masks is “a very positive move”, given that most members of the public would “go out and rush and buy all masks”.
“Everybody knows it won’t be enough eventually, but it provides some peace of mind. The psychological stability effect for the community is important, so people don’t panic,” So added.
He noted that the Macau government’s move to restrict the entry of people from Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei Province from entering the city — known for its mega-casinos — despite the potential risks the move poses to its tourism sector.
“These are the basic and important things … Macau is heavily reliant on tourists, but the government has taken measures to protect people’s livelihood and health,” So opined.
Macau’s first case involved a 52-year-old businesswoman from Wuhan who arrived in the city by high-speed rail.
Head of Macau’s health bureau Lei Chin-lon told the media: “A series of tests found that she was positive for the coronavirus and had symptoms of pneumonia.”
AFP reported Macau’s Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Ao Ieong Iu as saying on 22 Jan that staff in all casinos will be required to wear masks.
“We have not banned tourism groups from Wuhan but we are not encouraging them,” said Ao Ieong.
She added that any persons arriving at entry ports along the city’s border with the mainland will be required to fill health declaration forms.
“We will stay in close contact with tourism agencies and require them to notify us of all groups going to and coming from Wuhan,” Ao Ieong added.