There are enough masks available if people use them sensibly and responsibly, Senior Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min has said.
"There is no need to rush to buy masks. We are working with retailers like NTUC FairPrice and Unity Pharmacy to push out the stocks," he said in a Facebook post yesterday after visiting a warehouse with FairPrice Group chief executive Seah Kian Peng to check on the stockpile.
Dr Lam said some retailers have started to ration the sale of masks "to ensure there is adequate supply for Singaporeans and to prevent unnecessary hoarding".
The Government is working with retailers to manage pricing, he added, cautioning them against profiteering.
Checks by The Straits Times on 10 shops, including branches of popular chains and a supermarket, found that masks were mostly out of stock.
A Watsons spokesman said it is working closely with suppliers to replenish stocks.
Dr Lam said masks are generally not needed in normal daily activities as there is currently no local transmission of the Wuhan virus, but those with a cough or runny nose should use one to prevent viruses from spreading.