Singapore: Strict measures in controlling the COVID-19 cases

Third distribution exercise

Singaporean residents can collect the improved reusable masks from May 26 for three weeks until June 14. This will be the third nationwide distribution of masks. The latest distribution of masks is more comfortable to wear and have better bacterial filtration quality. The government prepared six million masks for eligible residents. Residents with valid identification cards can collect one reusable cloth mask each in collection counters at community clubs and residents’ committee centres during working hours until June 1. Also, residents can take up the masks from 24-hour vending machines, some of which are set up at community clubs for those who are unable to pick up at community clubs and residents’ committee centres. Foreign domestic workers and international students living in hostels are also included. Residents can check the availability of masks in vending machines on the website.

Before the pandemic, Singapore only produced N95 masks. Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing mentioned there would be a severe shortage of surgical masks worldwide. He said Singapore has been ramping up the domestic production of surgical masks to ensure the supply is sustainable for the healthcare workers. Engineering firm Singapore Technologies (ST) Engineering, which relocated its mask-producing machines back from Taiwan to Singapore, has begun the domestic production of medical-grade masks in mid-Feb for the frontline healthcare and frontline workers in the hospital fighting against coronavirus.

ST Engineering is a globally integrated engineering group providing solutions in aerospace, electronics, land-system, marine sectors. The innovation of AIR+ Smart Mask combines two products – a protective mask and first attachable micro ventilator (the AIR+) that reduce the heat, moisture and CO2 trapped in the mask after work. It prevents the discomfort of using conventional masks and it is recommended especially for workers requiring protective masks such as healthcare workers.

Outbreak of coronavirus

In mid-April 2020, the outbreak of coronavirus in Singapore got worse. As of May 25, 2020, Singapore recorded 31,960 confirmed cases of coronavirus. Many of the confirmed cases are associated with the migrant worker living in cramped dormitories. The minister of Health, Gan Kim Yeung mentioned personal hygiene is still essential for disrupting the transmission chain. Since the outbreak began in China, the government restarted the domestic production of surgical masks in mid-February.

From the start of the pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) said masks should only be worn by sick people, medical and care workers while healthy people are unnecessary to wear masks. Singaporean then adopted its advice and emphasized social distancing measures and hand hygiene. However, the Singapore government changed its position and announced the government no longer discouraged people from wearing face masks in public after the rapid growing confirmed cases. Prime minister Lee Hsien Loong said the decision was made by prevailing evidence of some infected patients showing no symptoms.

Although its proximity to Mainland China, Singapore managed well through tight controls to keep the cases low. Singapore stopped allowing short-term visitors to enter or transit on March 23 considering the high risk of imported coronavirus cases. For Singaporean residents and long-term pass holders who have travel history in Hubei province, they need to serve a 14-day quarantine once they enter the country. Apart from travel restriction, Singapore implemented strict social-distance. Then Singapore imposed a lockdown of the city including schools and workplace on May 4.

The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented to all of us and it spreads all around the world in quantum speed. Close to 4 hundred thousand people died from the disease thus far. We should appreciate the effort healthcare professionals made and worship how precious our life is. The number is still counting, so we should keep our hygiene, put on masks and keep the social distancing. ALWAYS WASH OUR HANDS!

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