Mask distribution to begin at 200 RC centres today

Above: Around 1,500 Singapore Armed Forces servicemen are working round the clock to ensure that the 5.2 million masks are packed in time. In the foreground are sealed boxes containing the packed masks. Left: Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sin
Around 1,500 Singapore Armed Forces servicemen are working round the clock to ensure that the 5.2 million masks are packed in time. In the foreground are sealed boxes containing the packed masks. ST PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM
Above: Around 1,500 Singapore Armed Forces servicemen are working round the clock to ensure that the 5.2 million masks are packed in time. In the foreground are sealed boxes containing the packed masks. Left: Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sin
Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing (in red) and Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen observing the packing of masks at the Safti Military Institute yesterday. ST PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM

The distribution of more than five million masks to local households will begin today at about 200 residents' committee (RC) centres, with residents in Beach Road among the first to receive them.

Collection times will be staggered over the next week at the designated 89 community centres and 654 RC centres that will be mobilised across the island, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing told reporters yesterday.

Information on when and where to collect the masks has been put up on community notice boards, digital display panels and constituency social media platforms.

You can check details of the mask collection using this site. It will be regularly updated.

Members of the public can also call 1800-333-9999 if they have questions about the mask collection. The hotline will be manned between 2pm and 10pm today, and 9am to 9pm from tomorrow to Feb 9.

Mr Chan, who is the People's Association (PA) deputy chairman, said that collection times will be staggered to prevent long queues from forming.

"We have calculated that even at peak hour, we should be able to complete the transactions in a few minutes, so there is really no need to rush," he said.

The Government on Thursday announced that all 1.3 million households in Singapore will be given a pack of four masks each amid the spread of the deadly Wuhan virus and reports of shops running out of stock. The masks are for one-time use and are meant for people who are ill to avoid infecting others.

They will be made available progressively from today, and should be fully distributed by Feb 9. Collection hours today will be from 2pm to 10pm, and from 10am to 9pm on subsequent days.

The free masks can be collected only once per household, and those collecting them must show their identity card. PA volunteers will deliver the masks to residents with mobility issues, said Mr Chan.

PA volunteer Ronnie Ma, who will be helping to distribute masks at the Kampong Glam Beach Road RC centre, said that it expects to serve about 2,500 to 2,800 households today.

"We are focusing purely on Beach Road (today) because it has our highest population of residents living in rental blocks," said Mr Ma, 50.

Meanwhile, around 1,500 Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) servicemen are working round the clock to ensure that the 5.2 million masks are packed in time.

The packing started at 10pm on Thursday. All masks are expected to be packed by tonight.

 
 
 

The servicemen, coming from various units under the Combat Service Support Command such as the Supply and Transport Headquarters, are doing eight-hour shifts, with 450 people involved in each shift. Each shift is expected to prepare about 200,000 packs of masks.

Speaking with reporters yesterday after observing the packing at the Safti Military Institute in Joo Koon, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said the packing was on track and households would be able to receive the masks on time.

The SAF is also helping with contact tracing as well as manning thermal imagery machines at the airport to pick out travellers with fever, he said.

Asked if he foresaw any impact on operational readiness, Dr Ng said the SAF would be mindful of its primary responsibility even as it played its part in this national effort.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 01, 2020, with the headline 'Mask distribution to begin at 200 RC centres today'. Print Edition | Subscribe