Following tightened export regulations in other Asian countries on face masks, Singapore will be looking at developing domestic capability to produce them locally, said the Ministry of National Development (MND) on Tue (18 Feb).
In a written parliamentary reply to Ang Mo Kio Member of Parliament Gan Thiam Poh, MND said that certain places such as Taiwan, Thailand and India “have banned or tightened regulations on the export of masks”, and that it is crucial for Singapore to strengthen “the resilience of our supply chain”.
“In peacetime, we had built up a stockpile of surgical and N95 masks. As we draw down on this stockpile, we will also need to replenish it with new supplies,” said MND.
Doing so entails developing local face mask production capacities and finding new sources of face masks to be imported into Singapore.
Mr Gan asked whether the Government will include the production of face masks and other protective medical gears as a strategic facility and support the investment of such a facility in Singapore.
Citing SARS, H1N1, Zika and Monkeypox, MND said that Singapore has “strengthened our epidemiological surveillance and containment capabilities, and held regular emergency preparedness exercises to keep ourselves operationally ready”.
The establishment of the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), for example, has served as an enhancement in Singapore’s infrastructure in the face of an outbreak such as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), said MND.
“Even before Singapore had its first confirmed case [of the novel coronavirus], we anticipated that we would need a whole-of-Government effort to respond effectively to this threat and we set up the Multi-Ministry Taskforce on Jan 22, 2020 to coordinate our responses and measures,” said MND.
Singapore recorded 81 confirmed coronavirus cases as of yesterday.