As recent studies suggest that some people can be infected but not show any symptoms, the Government will no longer discourage people who are well from wearing masks.
The move also comes in the wake of the review by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United States’ Centres for Disease Control and Prevention of their stance on the issue of face masks, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday, as he announced that the Government will distribute reusable masks to all households from tomorrow.
Explaining the new approach to the wearing of masks, PM Lee said: “We now think there are some cases out there in the community going undetected, though probably still not that many.
“We also now have evidence that an infected person can show no symptoms, and yet still pass on the virus to others… Therefore, we will no longer discourage people from wearing masks.”
The wearing of a mask may also help to protect others, in case a person has the virus but does not know it, he added.
Hence, the Government will distribute reusable masks to all households, with surgical masks still being conserved for people who really need them, like healthcare workers.
“But remember, mask or no mask, you still need to wash your hands and keep a safe distance away from other people,” PM Lee added.
On Singapore’s previous policy to encourage only those who are unwell to wear masks, PM Lee said it was based on scientific advice and guidelines from the WHO.
“We also did not have community spread in Singapore then, so it was very unlikely for you to run into anyone with Covid-19 on the street, much less be infected by them.”
The Ministry of Health said in a statement that it will distribute reusable masks to all residents with registered home addresses.
The distribution will take place progressively from tomorrow to April 12, and collection points will be set up at designated community clubs/centres and residents’ committee centres.
Residents will be informed of the collection details via notice boards at their lift lobbies and precincts.
At a news conference following PM Lee’s address, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said every Singapore resident will get a reusable mask.
He said the masks should be washed and dried properly after use, adding that volunteers will help to provide guidelines on usage to those collecting the masks.
“All of us should try to stay at home,” Mr Chan added.
“If we need to go out to buy essentials or to work, and will be in contact with others, we may use the reusable masks to minimise the risks to ourselves and each other.”