Last week, the Minister for Trade and Industry, Chan Chun Sing, reprimanded retailers taking advantage of the Wuhan virus situation to hoard masks in order to generate profit.
The Minister praised the efforts made by online platforms such as Carousell and Qoo10 for warning to suspend those who intend to make profits using their respective platforms.
He acknowledged the concern of Singaporeans regarding the purchase of masks due to the diminishing supply. He reassured the public that with proper management there would be sufficient masks for all.
Elaborating further, Mr Chan said that this would depend on three factors — the quantity of the physical stockpile, the usage rate, and its resupply quantum and frequency.
Taking the above factors into account, the Minister reiterated that there should be sufficient masks available.
In this context, the Minister said that plans are afoot for new suppliers to meet any eventuality of any increase in demand.
Mr Chan added that the government would prioritize the supply of masks to medical institutions. He explained that people who worked in healthcare services were more susceptible to contracting the virus.
The minister advised Singaporeans never succumb to short-term fears or panic buying which would result in hoarding behaviors. Ultimately this would destroy the current system at work.
Minister Chan’s statement to assure the public there were no shortages of masks to go around was met with disbelief by citizens as they point out the many places in which the masks have been sold out. Also, online users claimed that they were unable to find masks at their local pharmacies such as Guardian and Watsons.
A netizen claimed that he was unable collect his masks at the respective distribution centers on the scheduled date, as he was traveling overseas for work.
Netizen Chay Kit Yue expressed his need for more surgical masks as he travels to Shanghai for work. He adds he could be away for a long period of time, and therefore would not be able to collect the free masks handed out by the government.
Despite the Minister’s calling out retailers who were profiteering from the situation, online users are unhappy as prices are high making it difficult for citizens to obtain masks.
Siti Khadijah writes, “Someone selling kids mask at $80 for 5 pcs. I’m not sure how to report these people, the other one selling $75 for 50pcs it’s just ridiculous”.
This would mean that mask for children would be priced at $16 for just one while adult masks would cost $1.50 for each.
The Minister had also urged panicky citizens not to buy bulk amounts and hoard it. To this, online users argue that given the pressing situation, why would people not panic.
Ingrid LH’s comment highlights that citizens are purchasing masks in bulk quantities only to resell them at a higher price.