Friday, Dec 26, 2014Friday, Dec 26, 2014

Singapore

 

A look back at emergency kits handed out during Sars epidemic and 2013 haze

Published on May 5, 2014 6:15 PM
 

At the height of the Several Acute Respiratory (Sars) outbreak in Singapore in 2003, the Government issued free Sars "tool kits" to every single household here. Among the items included in the kit was a thermometer to check for fever - a symptom crucial in detecting the first possible signs of Sars - and surgical masks.

While there is no indication that the virus is making a reappearance and no cases of Mers-CoV - a deadlier but less-transmissible cousin of the Sars virus - have been detected in Singapore so far, emergency starter kits that contain three 3M N95 masks each will be distributed to some 1.2 million households in Singapore from Tuesday onwards.

The initiative by Temasek Cares, the non-profit, philanthropic arm of Temasek Holdings, hopes to get Singaporean households to start thinking about how they can better prepare themselves for emergencies, such as the haze or flu pandemics.

Here's a look back at how Singaporeans armed themselves during the Sars outbreak and at the peak of last year's haze.


War on Sars

Households
The Government issued free Sars "tool kits" to all of Singapore's 1.1 million homes. Each kit contained a digital thermometer, two surgical masks and instructions in four languages on how and when to use the items.

While volunteers went door-to-door at some estates handing out the kits, other residents had to collect their kits from community centres and clubs, or residents' committees nearest their homes.

The kits costs the Government at least $11 million.

Travellers
Singapore Airlines also gave out health kits to passengers travelling to and from Sars-affected cities in 2003. Each were given a kit with two surgical masks, three antiseptic wipes and one single-use clinical thermometer.

Students
All 500,000 students - from primary to junior college level - were issued an oral digital thermometer of their own so that they could take their temperature twice a day as a precaution against Sars back in 2003. Purchasing the thermometers will cost the Education Ministry $5 million.

Cabbies
Taxi drivers got two thermometers - one for the cabby and the other for the relief driver - a bottle of hand disinfectant, alcohol wipes and protective masks as part of their kit.

Singapore Pools donated the kits, which cost $518,000 in total. Cabbies also received boxes of tissues donated by tissue paper supplier Tipex Trading.

Hawkers
The National Environment Agency supplied stallholders and food handlers with kits comprising thermometers, record cards, "fever-free" stickers and brochures on good hygiene practices over the next fortnight.

Health-care workers
Mask-glove-gown were compulsory to protect health-care workers from Sars.

SAF personnel
The Ministry of Defence issued personal thermometers to all staff and Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel to do twice-daily checks.

2013 Haze

Needy households
The Government distributed N95 masks to some 200,000 of the poorest households and the vulnerable.

Military personnel
SAF troops with operational duties were given N95 masks in case the air quality turned hazardous. These soldiers were primarily those who guarded key installations like Jurong Island, Sembawang Wharves and Changi Airport.

Companies
Many companies installed air purifiers and carbon filters, handed out masks or allowed employees to work from home.

Related Links

 

Videos