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Opposition politicians query Govt stand that face masks are not needed unless one is ill

The mask debate continues, with the key question being: "To wear, or not to wear"

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Opposition politicians Lim Tean and Goh Meng Seng have taken to social media to question and refute statements made by government organisations and People’s Action Party (PAP) politicians on the wearing of face masks.

On Thursday (Jan 30), Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said at a news conference that masks are not something that one can wear and automatically get protection against the Wuhan virus. Similar views have been expressed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Dr Janil Puthucheary, Mdm Ho Ching and the Ministry of Health.

Read related – Janil Puthucheary: ‘Don’t open and use the pack with 4 masks right away’

However, People’s Power Party chief Goh Meng Seng and People’s Voice chief Lim Tean have disagreed and questioned those statements.

In a Facebook post on Sunday (Feb 2), Mr Goh wrote: “PAP has cited some ‘experts’ to say that putting on mask ‘may not be effective’ in preventing Wuhan virus to infect.”

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The Mask DebatePAP has cited some "experts " to say that putting on mask "may not be effective" in preventing Wuhan…

Posted by Goh Meng Seng on Sunday, February 2, 2020

“There is no solid clinical trial or statistical data on the comparison of how well or how ineffective a mask would be in prevention of infection from contagious disease or virus,”  he said.

Similarly, in a social media post on Monday (Feb 3), Mr Lim described the issue as a “Raging Controversy Over Masks”. He said: “The PAP tells us that using masks is not needed unless you are ill. But that appears contrary to the advice given by other governments, including the Chinese and Vietnamese governments.”

Mr Goh said that “most doctors and nurses in hospitals and clinics would prefer to put on masks because they know many patients with contagious illness don’t put on masks”.

He then posed the obvious question: “If masks are not effective in prevention, why would these medically trained doctors and nurses put on masks?”

On Thursday (Jan 30), Dr Puthucheary had said that the government initiative of distributing a pack containing four surgical face masks to every household was 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,” he said. “We’re hoping that the residents won’t open it and use it right away.”

He 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.

There are many reports online that lean one way or the other, throwing different viewpoints in the mix. As of now, the mask debate continues, with the key question being: “To wear, or not to wear.” /TISG

Read related: Ho Ching: Wear masks if you feel unwell, but keeping hands clean is of prime importance

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