Four local doctors have released a memo advising Singaporeans to always wear a mask when leaving the house. Their letter is a direct contradiction to the Ministry of Health’s advisory.
With a letter that has been circulated on social media and Whatsapp since it was released on Monday (Feb 10), doctors Colleen Thomas, Tham Hoe Meng, Judy Chen and Lim Pin Pin have drawn mixed reactions from netizens.
Their memo, titled ‘Health advisory from senior medical practitioners to Singaporeans’, states that they advise “everyone to wear a mask always when leaving home”. This is because, they add, “If one faces a person and both parties are masked, it is considerably safer, constituting a 2 barrier protection”.
Masks have been out of stock in most pharmacies and shops, after Singapore went into Dorscon (Disease Outbreak Response System Condition) Orange mode.
To work around this, the four doctors urge people to find creative solutions. They wrote that some have purchased washable cloth masks, sewed masks, constructed them with suitable paper or even tied a scarf to their faces. “These measures are better than no mask at all”, they write in their memo.
Memo directly contradicts authorities’ advise
The Ministry of Health and ministers have advised that it is not necessary to wear a mask unless one is ill. On Thursday (Jan 30), Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, who is co-chair of the multi-ministry task force for combating the Wuhan outbreak, said that “The current rate of consumption of masks in Singapore is not sustainable… especially with the global shortage and the likely export bans”.
Similarly, also on Jan 30, Dr Janil Puthucheary explained that the government initiative of distributing a pack containing four surgical face masks to every household is for emergency purposes only.
“What we’re going to do is we’re going to make sure that every home, every household in Singapore gets a pack with four surgical masks in it,” said the Minister. “We’re hoping that the residents won’t open it and use it right away.”
He then explained that the masks are to be used by those who feel unwell and need to visit a doctor. “When you go to see the doctor, the polyclinic, the hospital, you’ll be given another mask, as many masks as you need,” he added.
In their memo, the four doctors wrote, “We are not trying to disclaim the health authorities who have a very challenging task; but professionally we feel the need to disseminate this message”.
They also add that any unnecessary mingling should be avoided and that people should stay home and avoid air-conditioned places.
“If we all do this 2M rule (wear Mask, stop Mingling) in 2 weeks the worst could be over” they wrote.
TISG has reached out to the Ministry of Health. -/TISG