Temasek Foundation will be providing every household in Singapore with one free oximeter to help residents regularly monitor their blood oxygen levels. This falls under the foundation’s Stay Prepared initiative.
A dangerously low blood oxygen level can be a sign of deteriorating health, meaning that an oximeter can be useful in alerting people when they need to seek medical attention.
In a statement on Thursday (24 Jun), Temasek Foundation highlighted ‘silent pneumonia’ as one of the most serious consequences of COVID-19, where seriously ill people feel generally well despite damaged lungs and dangerously low levels of oxygen.
The oximeters provided by Temasek Foundation are manufactured by biotechnology companies Lepu and Yuwell.
Residents can redeem the device at over 300 participating supermarket and pharmacy outlets of NTUC FairPrice, Sheng Siong, Giant, Cold Storage, Watsons, Unity, or Guardian island-wide.
They can do so by presenting the Stay Prepared leaflet with a redemption tab at the outlets. Each household will receive a leaflet by 3 July. Residents can also collect the oximeters on behalf of other households by bringing along the respective household leaflets with redemption tabs.
Collection will be during store opening hours between 5 July to 5 August.
Residents can check their nearest collection points and operating hours at www.stayprepared.sg/oximeter.
Understanding your blood oxygen levels
One manifestation of COVID-19 is ‘silent pneumonia’, which is when blood oxygen levels drop to dangerously low levels, sometimes without any other symptoms.
If left untreated, the low oxygen levels can lead to organ damage and serious consequences.
Generally, blood oxygen levels between 95 to 100 per cent are considered healthy, though some people may have lower normal levels, such as smokers or those with lung conditions.
Blood oxygen levels between 94 to 90 per cent are considered low and may require supplemental oxygen. It is advised that you consult a doctor if such is the case.
Dangerously low levels are when it is less than 90 per cent. In this case, urgent treatment is necessary, and people are advised to go to an Accident & Emergency Department immediately.
With that said, Temasek Foundation stressed that oximeter readings may be inaccurate due to reasons such as trembling or shaking hands, or perhaps even the use of nail varnish.
It added that blood oxygen level readings also do not replace a COVID-19 test as low levels may be caused by other underlying conditions besides the virus.
To use the oximeter, place it around your fingertip with the display facing you. Then, press the button to activate the device, and wait a few seconds for your blood oxygen level reading to stabilise.
The device will show two numbers: blood oxygen concentration and heart rate.
Last year, Temasek Foundation distributed 8,000 oximeters to migrant workers living in dormitories as part of the effort to identify new cases of COVID-19 infection. A further 12,000 is said to have been given out.