Singapore – Based on a new scientific rationale that wearing face masks, even homemade ones, provide better protection from Covid-19 droplets, Ho Ching advised the public to “be open to the idea of improvising masks.”

CEO of Temasek Holdings, Mdm Ho took to Facebook on Sunday (March 29) to share a recent study regarding the effectiveness of face masks and why everyone should wear it in public.

The rationale
Molecular and cell biologist, Dr Sui Huang, in his account, contradicted official recommendations by organisations such as the Center for Disease Controls (CDC) that masks worn by non-healthcare professionals are ineffective using logic, the mechanics of transmission and biology of viral entry.

Dr Huang noted that the recommendations urging the public to wear face masks only when feeling ill were motivated by the need to save respirator masks for healthcare workers. “There is no scientific support for the statement that masks worn by non-professionals are ‘not effective,'” he said. On the contrary, given the stated goal of flattening the curve of confirmed cases, any additional, “however partial reduction of transmission would be welcome,” said the biologist.

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Based on Dr Huang’s observations, compiled with other existing research, an N95 respirator mask, surgical face mask or even a homemade DIY mask are effective in providing inward and outward protection to curb the spread of the virus. According to an experimental simulation of their filtering capacity, homemade tea cloth masks prevented up to 90 per cent of particles from leaking into the environment, an option for Covid-19 carriers demonstrating mild to no symptoms.

“It would be tragic if the wrong logic and mechanics and biology, which has led to Western governments to not encourage, if not stigmatize the wearing of masks, may have contributed to the steep rise of Covid-19,” said Dr Huang.

We shouldn’t try to demonise the wearing of masks just to preserve masks – Ho Ching
In response to Dr Huang’s post, Mdm Ho said that “we shouldn’t laugh and snigger at people trying all sorts of protective barriers” and suggested the public to be open to the idea of mask improvisation.

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She added that the mask could be a plastic shield, a chic designer mask, a simple folded handkerchief or a “lovingly home-sewn mask by grandma or mother.” Whatever we wish to improvise, we should not be made to feel silly or unfashionable, said Mdm Ho.

Mdm Ho reminded everyone of the importance of proper hand hygiene and to not fall trap to the false sense of security by wearing a face mask. “But knowing Singaporeans, the vast majority are conscientious, thoughtful, and disciplined,” Mdm Ho said.

“Just try to save and preserve the 4 masks given out by Singov earlier,” she added.

Members from the online community agreed that wearing a face mask should be encouraged. “Many people could be asymptomatic but have the virus,” noted a netizen who added that wearing a face mask should be mandatory for public transport users.

Photo: FB screengrab/ Ho Ching
Photo: FB screengrab/ Ho Ching

Others wear face masks because it is the socially responsible thing to do, regardless of “what the experts advise.”

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Photo: FB screengrab/ Ho Ching

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