On Sunday (9 February), the People’s Association (PA) revealed that only 54 percent of 1.37 million households in Singapore have collected their free masks from 89 community centres (CCs) or clubs and 654 residents’ committee centres (RCs).
As such, the PA said that the Government would extend the deadline for the collection of surgical masks till 29 February. Originally, the masks were supposed to be distributed from 1 to 9 February.
The Government announced on 30 January that it will be distributing four surgical masks to all households in Singapore. It explained that it will be handing out 5.2 million free masks progressively from 1 February via its CCs and RCs.
The masks can only be collected once per household and those collecting will have to bring along their identity card (NRIC).
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also took to his Facebook on the same day to reiterate this information.
PM Lee stated in his post that he understands people’s concerns and frustrations since they were not able to get hold of masks at retail stores.
He explained that although 5 million masks have been sent out to retailers in the last nine days, but the demand turned out to be higher than anticipated “given the recent rush all over Singapore to buy them”.
Speaking of the collection rate, PA stated that people can go and get their free masks at the CCs in their constituencies during operating hours.
It added that if there are any remaining masks after the new deadlines, they will be added back into the national stockpile that they were initially drawn from.
“This will ensure that our health institutions and those in need can have access to the necessary supplies,” said the association.
Cases so far
On Sunday (9 February), the Ministry of Health (MOH) has confirmed three additional cases of 2019 novel coronavirus infection in Singapore. This makes a total of 43 infected cases so far.
All three new confirmed cases have no recent travel history to China or links to previously confirmed cases.
Out of the 43 patients, six are in critical condition and placed in intensive care. Another six have made full recovery as of Monday (10 February).
As of now, the number of deaths due to the coronavirus has jumped to 902 and infected over 39,800 individuals, nearly all of them in Hubei, and spread to two dozen countries since it emerged in December 2019 at a market that sold wild animals in the city.
The number of infections has exceeded the total reported in the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic in 2003.
WHO also declared the outbreak in China a global public health emergency, and noted that there are chances for the virus to spread to countries that lack the capabilities to deal with it.