Masks sold out at some stores as haze worsens, but MOH says more stock on the way

A photo taken in Toa Payoh shows haze over the neighbourhood at around 2pm on Sept 14, 2019. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - Masks to guard against the worsening haze were sold out in some stores in Singapore on Saturday (Sept 14).

Staff at seven healthcare outlets told The Straits Times that they had run out of the masks.

Healthcare shops in Toa Payoh, Serangoon Gardens, Potong Pasir and Stadium Walk said high demand from customers over the past two days had cleaned them out.

However, masks are unlikely to remain sold out at these stores for long.

In a statement on its Facebook page posted on Sunday (Sept 15), the Ministry of Health (MOH) said that it was aware of reports that N95 masks were sold out at some retail stores.

"We would like to assure the public that there are sufficient stocks in the warehouses and Government stockpiles. We are working with the retailers to move available stocks to the retail shops, and stocks will be available progressively from today," it added.

Haze conditions took a turn for the worse on Friday (Sept 13), when the 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) hiked to between 85 and 97, seen as the high-end of moderate.

On Saturday, haze crossed the unhealthy level at 4pm.

The 24-hour PSI ranged between 94 and 112 at 9pm, with the highest recorded reading in western Singapore.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) advises the public to cut down on outdoor activities once a PSI level gets to a range of 101 to 200.

Staff at the Guardian outlet in Serangoon Gardens said they had sold around 40 of the N95 and 3M masks on Saturday, leaving the shop with only surgical masks.

Staff at Guardian's Plaza Singapura store said the masks would be restocked on Monday or Tuesday.

A salesman said larger healthcare outlets in Takashimaya or Paragon were expected to restock masks by Monday while smaller shops would be resupplied on Tuesday.

High-quality masks, including 3M 8210, N95 and 3M 9002A, can screen dangerous airborne dust particles and provide protection to alveolar cells in the lungs.

The Guardian's online store prices the N95 and 3M masks at $2.80.

A box of three N95 masks costs $4.90 on the Watsons online store.

The NEA warned that the PSI for the next 24 hours is forecast to range between the high end of the moderate and the low end of the unhealthy range, and may enter the mid-section of the unhealthy range if denser haze is blown in.

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