Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Japanese citizens are expected to receive the reusable cloth face masks from its government to cope with the shortage of disposable masks supplies in the country.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced yesterday (1 April) that the Japanese government will distribute reusable face masks to around 50 million households, starting from next week in the areas where the number of infection cases increased, reported in Kyodo News.
The distribution is a part of government’s emergency economic package that will finalise next week, said Mr Abe, adding that each household with a registered postal address will be eligible for two washable cloth masks, which can be used multiple times.
In order to deal with short supply of disposable masks at drugstores and other shops nationwide, Mr Abe said, “We believe (providing the reusable masks) will be helpful in responding to the rapidly increasing demand.”
Speaking on the Olympic Games that may impacted due to COVID-19 pandemic, in the parliament on 23 March, Mr Abe said that postponing the Olympics over the coronavirus pandemic may become “inevitable”.
He said that Japan was still committed to hosting a “complete” Game. However, “If that becomes difficult, in light of considering athletes first, it may become inevitable that we make a decision to postpone,” Mr Abe asserted.
Meanwhile in response to the rising number of coronavirus cases, Japan will also expand the entry ban on visitors from the United States, China, Australia, Britain, South Korea, most of Europe and many Southeast Asia countries from Friday onwards (3 April).
It was noted that total of 73 countries’ visitor will be prohibited to enter Japan under this entry ban.
As of 1 April, Japan reported over 2,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 57 deaths and 472 recoveries from the disease, according to the data of

S’poreans received face masks from government and opposition parties; though govt noted no need to wear mask if you are well

Similarly, in Singapore, government has also taken initiative to distribute surgical masks to 1.3 million households across the country amid a global shortage of face masks.
The initiative has begun on 1 February where each household can receive four surgical masks from the government when bring along their identity card during collection.
About 5.2 million free masks were handed out progressively since 1 February via 89 Community Centres (CC) and 654 Residents’ Committee (RC) centres and approximately 67 percent of Singaporean households have collected the face masks.
On top of the move from government, opposition parties such as Progress Singapore Party and People’s Voices also offer their good will to hand out free masks to the residents during their walkabouts and house to house visit.
Medical professionals in Singapore also wrote an open letter to call for people to wear face masks and for people to practice social-distancing. Mdm Ho Ching, CEO of Temasek has also made similar calls recently on her Facebook page.
It was previously reported that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had implied that there is no need to wear mask if one is not unwell.
Senior Minister of State Janil Puthucheary noted the free masks are not meant to be used immediately upon collection, but for people who are unwell to use them before getting new masks at the clinic or hospital.
Responding to the face masks distribution by government, Mr Janil said the government’s intention of distributing mask is to “reduce the anxiety that drives people to go and stock up on hundreds of boxes just in case”.
He said, “The purpose of these masks is that if you are sick and then need to go see a doctor, you have a mask to take with you on your journey there.
“When you go to see the doctor at the polyclinic or the hospital, you’ll be given another mask and as many masks as you need.”
Then he added, “You don’t need to go and join these long queues to stock up on masks just in case. We’re putting a mask in your hand. If you’re sick and you need it, it’s there.”

S’pore MOH review its stance after importance of mask being stressed by health experts

Given that the evolving situation of  COVID-19, more and more health experts has stressed the importance and face mask usage while urging the authorities to broaden its usage during the pandemic
In an earlier report, according to the Director-General of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) George Gao, wearing face masks can prevent droplets which may carry the virus from escaping from the mouth and infecting others.
“This virus is transmitted by droplets and close contact. Droplets play a very important role—you’ve got to wear a mask, because when you speak, there are always droplets coming out of your mouth,” said Mr Gao.
A professor of infectious diseases at the Korea University Guro Hospital and South Korea’s most prominent coronavirus expert Kim Woo-joo also said that wearing masks to prevent infection of COVID-19 is “definitely effective” and he found it quite “odd” that not many people wear masks in the West.
As such experts have stressed repeatedly over the importance of mask, recently it was reported that Singapore government is now reviewing its stance on masks.
Director of Medical Services at the Ministry of Health (MOH), Kenneth Mak said on Tuesday (31 March) that his ministry is looking at medical evidence “very carefully” and is conducting a review of its stance on masks.
“As far as masks are concerned, we are in fact in the process of continuing to review the data that’s available, both in the literature as well as the international experience,” Prof Mak said, while adding that recommendations would be made after the review is completed.
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