Singapore – Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr Janil Puthucheary reiterated the importance of personal hygiene and responsibility among Singaporeans amidst the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.
On January 30, Thursday, Dr 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.
“The message we want to send is, ‘Use the mask if you’re unwell. If you’re well, don’t use the mask and don’t worry about whether you need to go and get a mask. We’re putting that mask in your hand, so you don’t need to go and join these long queues just to stock up on masks just in case,'” advised Dr Puthucheary.
When asked if there were risks involved should the government not receive the needed cooperation from Singaporeans during the campaign, the Minister described the situation from two perspectives.
“Washing our hands, practising personal responsibility and hygiene and getting on with all the other things we have to do is important,” said the Minister for his first message.
“Second, we are taking steps to protect Singapore and Singaporeans.” Restricting travel to Hubei and Wuhan and removing visa arrangements from incoming individuals are some ways the government is protecting the country from the outside.
He added that all of Singapore’s health care facilities are on high alert and standby for any signs of the epidemic.
“What we hope to do is reduce the anxiety that drives people to hoard the masks,” said the Minister.
“Right now, the masks that have been provided to the retailers and various other distribution channels are not being distributed out equally to all Singaporeans.” Dr Puthucheary added that the people who are getting the face masks are those willing to queue again and again and keep the masks for themselves.
The campaign to hand out the four face masks to each household aims to create equitability of access among residents.
Distribution of face masks will begin on February 1, Saturday. -/TISG
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