Singapore — With countries experiencing a shortage of surgical face marks due to the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that originated in Wuhan, China, many are boosting their efforts to ensure adequate supplies when they are needed or sharing useful information on them.
Facebook power-user and CEO of Temasek Holdings, Ms Ho Ching, shared a post on Friday (Feb 7) about the proper use of face masks and the need to prioritise stocks for frontline health workers.
“There is a global shortage of surgical masks, as well as a shortage of materials to make surgical masks,” she pointed out.
Ms Ho, who is the wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, mentioned a few facts about face mask production. China manufactures half of the world’s output of surgical masks but the “workers had gone home for their lunar new year holiday, and many are not back yet as the Wuhan outbreak has led to restrictions in travel across parts of China”.
With China unable to meet supply levels of face masks amidst an increased demand, the effect would be countries controlling or banning the export of their surgical masks and other medical supplies, as is happening in Taiwan, Vietnam and Thailand.
“In Singapore, while we have stockpile, these are not likely to be enough if the Wuhan nCoV continues to spread to thousands more and over many months,” said Ms Ho.
She suggested for people to try and prioritise mask stockpile for hospital workers and those who are at the frontline of the fight against the virus.
“Hospital workers face all sorts of patients at work through their entire workday, over every workday,” said Ms Ho. “What we don’t see is that they maintain a high standard of hand hygiene and personal hygiene as the #1 precaution.”
Ms Ho admitted that the new coronavirus had been “scary at first” because it was still unclear if the epidemic was anything like Sars or Ebola.
“But is beginning to look like another flu-like virus,” she concluded. “Infectious, but not so lethal except for old or frail folks with other underlying medical conditions.”
Ms Ho urged the general public to put on face masks only when feeling unwell to prevent the spread of germs and other pathogens.
Some people wrote in the comments section of the post and Ms Ho responded to them.
One netizen, Mr Matthew Abrahan Soh, wrote: “I suggest we convert some factories in SG to manufacture masks. Made in SG.” Others agreed with the comment and added that the current outbreak had “reminded us that we cannot rely on imports solely”.
Another, however, pointed out that the country was “seriously lacking in terms of raw materials” to manufacture surgical masks locally.
Ms Ho shared that she knew of at least one team “running around like crazy” to secure production equipment and filter materials, although it was experiencing shortage issues as well.
There was also a short discussion on the proper term for the 2019 nCoV.
There is a global shortage of surgical masks, as well as a shortage of materials to make surgical masks. China…