SINGAPORE - Temasek Foundation will be giving one oximeter to every household in Singapore so that residents can monitor their blood oxygen levels regularly.
The device checks the oxygen level in the blood and can help detect early signs of a deterioration in health.
This initiative comes as new and more infectious Covid-19 variants emerge. "The Covid-19 virus can cause blood oxygen levels to drop to dangerously low levels, even when you have no other symptoms," the foundation said in a statement on Thursday (June 24).
"'Silent pneumonia' is one of the most serious consequences of Covid-19, where seriously ill people can feel generally well, despite damaged lungs," it said.
Families can collect the devices from July 5 to Aug 5 at more than 300 FairPrice, Sheng Siong, Giant, Cold Storage, Watsons, Unity and Guardian outlets.
They have to present a leaflet at the venue, which will be distributed via letter boxes between June 28 and July 3.
Blood oxygen levels between 95 and 100 per cent are considered healthy, while a level between 90 and 94 per cent is deemed low.
Those with low blood oxygen levels may need supplemental oxygen and are advised to consult a doctor, the foundation said.
Blood oxygen levels below 90 per cent are "dangerously low" and urgent treatment at the Accident and Emergency department is needed.
The foundation stressed that blood oxygen readings cannot replace a Covid-19 test as low blood oxygen is not a definite indicator of testing positive for the virus. Low blood oxygen levels can be caused by other underlying conditions or complications.
Oximeter readings may also be inaccurate due to trembling hands or the use of nail varnish.
The oximeter can be used by placing it around a finger tip and pressing a button to activate the device. A few seconds are needed for the blood oxygen level reading to stabilise.
Two numbers will be displayed - the blood oxygen level and pulse rate.
Families can check their nearest collection points and operation hours on this website.
Collection can be made on behalf of other households, friends or neighbours by showing their household leaflets.
In May last year, Temasek Foundation gave out 8,000 oximeters to foreign workers in dormitories as part of precautionary measures to identify new cases of Covid-19 infection.
Workers have to measure their blood oxygen levels and record their oximeter readings twice a day. If an abnormal reading is obtained, the worker is advised to take another measurement after 30 minutes.
If the reading is still abnormal, he will receive an alert advising him to seek medical help.