SINGAPORE - Singapore's response to the Wuhan coronavirus is testament that the society is "cohesive and resilient", said Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran.
Mr Iswaran cited the "disciplined and orderly" way the public has responded to the islandwide mask distribution exercise.
"I've had many examples of people I've met who basically said that they won't be collecting the masks because they have enough of their own, and that it's better to leave them for others who need it more," he noted on the sidelines of a Chinese New Year celebration for residents at West Coast Vista Residents' Committee.
"I think this speaks volumes about the kind of society that we are. This is something we should cherish and continue to reinforce in Singapore."
The Government said on Thursday (Jan 30) that all 1.3 million households will get a pack of four masks each amid reports of shops running out of stock. Distribution began on Saturday (Feb 1) and will end on Feb 9.
Early reports indicated that collection queues have been short and well organised.
Mr Iswaran added that any leftover masks will be put to good use.
"Clearly, our highest priority is to ensure that our healthcare services are well supplied with these masks because they are at the frontline in many ways, and therefore we need to ensure that they are well resourced to do the job that they're doing."
Beyond the orderly mask collection, he said that he has also seen many instances of people looking out for one another and helping those under quarantine.
Other segments of society have also "risen to the challenge", he added, including how Singapore Armed Forces personnel have helped to pack masks and how grassroots volunteers have assisted in terms of the outreach of the community.
"Our public sector, officials and our various agencies have all had to respond to a very fast-evolving situation, and then come together with a very clear plan of action, and then execute," he said.
"That, again, attests to the mettle of our society and our public service, notwithstanding the fluid nature of the situation."