Govt to give out free N95 masks to 200,000 needy households

ONE million N95 masks will be given out free to the poorest 200,000 households starting from Sunday.

Chairman of the inter-ministerial committee on haze Dr Ng Eng Hen announced this on Friday night.

The government's stocks of masks will also go to popular retail outlets such as NTUC Fairprice. Fairprice will cap the price of these masks and limit the number one person can buy, to combat panic buying.

A current shortage of masks at retail pharmacies is caused by panic buying which has caused "supply chain bottle-necks", Dr Ng said. He assured that there are enough masks for Singapore's needs.

Dr Ng, a doctor by training, explained that the majority of people who are healthy do not need to wear such masks unless they work outdoors when the 24-hour PSI reading is over 300. "We have not reached that yet," he said, as the prediction for Saturday is a 24-hour PSI of between 201 and 300.

That means healthy people should avoid prolonged or strenuous outdoor exertion and wear N95 masks if such activity cannot be avoided. The elderly, pregnant, children, and ill should avoid all outdoor activity and wear N95 masks if prolonged outdoor activity is unavoidable.

The Health Ministry has said N95 masks can be reused as long as they are not out of shape or soiled.