Starting Sunday (April 5), every household in Singapore will receive reusable masks, as authorities are rethinking their advice on face masks, shared Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday.
The decision also means that the government will no longer discourage people from wearing masks, even if they do not show any signs of sickness, because evidence has shown that an infected person can show no symptoms and yet still pass on the virus to others.
All Households to Receive Reusable Masks Starting April 5 – Gov’t
At a separate briefing, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing gave details on how these masks will be distributed, noting that it will be similar to how the People’s Association distributed surgical masks to all households in February, as shared in a report by Today Online.
The reusable masks will be distributed at community centers and residents’ committees from April 5 to April 12.
Minister Chan also explained that residents will be able to collect their masks from 3 pm to 9 pm daily and on weekends, from 10 am to 9 pm.
Further details regarding the collection dates and venues will be posted on this website.
In an address to the nation that was broadcast live, PM Lee acknowledged that up to the time of his announcement, the Government has advised the general public that they need to wear a mask only if they are not feeling well, and this is to protect others from getting infections.
He also clarified that this was based on scientific advice and guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO).
PM Lee also shared that there wasn’t a community spread in Singapore then, so it was very unlikely for residents to run into anyone with COVID-19 on the street, much less be infected by them.
Despite the earlier advice regarding the use of masks, the Government still gave each household four surgical masks, to use in case any member of the household gets sick and to give people peace of mind.
However, the situation has changed.
“We now think there are some cases out there in the community going undetected, though probably still not that many. We also now have evidence that an infected person can show no symptoms and yet still pass on the virus to others,” PM Lee stressed.
“This is the very reason why the WHO is reviewing the issue of face masks,” Mr. Lee added.
Because of this, the Government will no longer discourage the use of masks.
“Wearing a mask may help to protect others, in case you have the virus but don’t know it. This is so that you keep your droplets to yourself,” PM Lee explained.
He noted that it could also protect a person a little better, especially if they are elderly or vulnerable because of pre-existing health conditions.
PM Lee pointed out, however, that the Government still wants to conserve surgical masks for the people who really need them — healthcare workers in clinics and hospitals.
Meanwhile, for everyone else, in a community setting, alternatives like reusable masks will give some added protection, he noted.
“So from this Sunday, the Government will distribute reusable masks to all households.“
PM Lee also took the opportunity to commend community groups that have been making and distributing reusable masks for the elderly and vulnerable.
“I applaud these efforts. They show our community spirit and mutual care. But remember, mask or no mask, you still need to wash your hands and keep a safe distance away from other people,” he shared.