Free N95 and surgical masks at selected supermarkets from Aug 26

This is the fifth distribution exercise of Temasek Foundation's Stay Prepared initiative. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Households here will each be given 50 medical-grade surgical masks and 25 N95 respirator masks, which they can collect at 131 supermarket outlets islandwide from Aug 26.

This is the fifth distribution exercise of Temasek Foundation's Stay Prepared initiative, which was introduced to help prepare communities for emergencies such as Covid-19.

Temasek chief executive Ho Ching announced the distribution of the free masks in a Facebook post on Tuesday (Aug 17). The exercise will run from Aug 26 to Sept 26.

The investment firm's philanthropic arm is working with larger supermarket outlets and selected CapitaLand malls to distribute the masks.

They include supermarket chains such as Sheng Siong, Prime, FairPrice, Cold Storage and Giant.

To collect the masks, residents must bring a paper or electronic SP Group utility bill - showing their SP bill account number - which will be scanned and recorded for the issue of the masks.

Ms Ho said that pharmacies will not be participating in the exercise, as the masks are bulky and "their outlets are too small to carry much stock".

"Not all the supermarket outlets can support this exercise too, as they would need a fairly large on-site store, or have a very tightly linked supply chain," she said.

Household representatives are encouraged to reduce plastic waste by taking their own bags to carry the boxes of masks when the collection exercise begins.

The exercise was announced earlier this month with Ms Ho noting that the Delta variant has an infectivity rate of between five and six people.

She said then that 80 per cent of the population would need to wear "80 per cent effective masks or better" to curb the spread.

Ms Ho also explained that surgical masks have 95 per cent filtration efficiency or better, while N95 masks are worn for high-risk jobs such as looking after Covid-19 patients or doing mass swabbing exercises.

In the post on Tuesday, she advised residents not to rush to collect the masks on the first three days of the exercise as there is plenty of stock.

"This and other Stay Prepared initiatives have been made possible with the dedication and kindness of many, many public-spirited volunteers from all walks of life," Ms Ho said.

Temasek Foundation last month distributed free oximeters, which measure blood oxygen levels, through major pharmacies and supermarket chains.

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