Singapore – The Ministry of National Development (MND) in answering the Covid-19-related questions from a Member of Parliament, noted that the country is strengthening its supply chain resilience and considering manufacturing face masks locally.
On February 18, Tuesday, the MND provided a written reply to Ang Mo Kio MP Gan Thiam Poh for his questions on the Covid-19 outbreak. He asked what lessons are to be learned from the recent outbreak, areas for improvement, and if the Government would include mask production as a strategic facility.
“Singapore has faced several infectious disease outbreaks since SARS in 2003, including H1N1, Zika, and most recently Monkeypox,” the MND noted. Through the lessons learned from those instances, the Government has strengthened its epidemiological surveillance and containment capabilities and held regular emergency preparedness exercises to ensure operational readiness, said the MND.
Singapore implemented the same precautionary measures toward Covid-19, even before its first confirmed case. “We anticipated that we would need a whole-of-Government effort to respond effectively to this threat and we set up the Multi-Ministry Taskforce on January 22 to coordinate our responses and measure,” the ministry said.
Areas of improvement
It has come to the Government’s attention that the public’s reactions to the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) alert level being raised from yellow to orange was due to a “lack of clarity” that resulted in a “misunderstanding,” according to National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.
With this, the written response included the importance of proper information dissemination to avoid panic and fear. “The Government has and will continue to push timely information through various platforms so that Singaporeans could easily refer to these authoritative sources for news, health advisories and the latest updates.”
It was mentioned in the MND statement that there is a need to replenish the stockpile of surgical and N95 masks given the high demand. “In recent weeks, some places like Taiwan, Thailand and India have banned or tightened regulations on the export of masks,” said the ministry. “We are therefore strengthening the resilience of our supply chain, including looking for new sources, and developing local manufacturing capabilities.”
Read the full written response here.
Many from the online community perceive the development of local manufacturing capabilities for face masks to be a good move.
Others supported the idea and urged the Government to get on the task urgently.