SINGAPORE - Singapore residents began collecting their masks on Monday (March 1) at vending machines located at more than 800 locations islandwide, including community centres and residents' committee centres.
The two-week mask distribution exercise is the fourth one by Temasek Foundation.
The double-layered mask has dual protection, with a water-repellent antimicrobial layer on the outside and an antibacterial treatment of the inner layer that kills bacteria from the wearer's saliva, according to a Facebook post by Temasek chief executive Ho Ching on Feb 19.
The mask, by Swiss hygiene company Livinguard, is made of treated cotton fabric with antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Mr Ankit Mital, director of Livinguard Asia, explained that the mask inactivates over 97 per cent of viruses from respiratory droplets or aerosols that land on the surface of the mask. This means that they are unable to spread and are no longer infectious.
The mask is also 99.75 per cent effective in reducing bacteria or preventing its growth on the inside surface of the mask, he said.
It can be washed once a week, and can be used daily for up to seven months if washed properly.
The mask has to be hand washed in cold water, and bleach or disinfectant should not be used.
The antiviral and antibacterial performance will be gradually reduced with each subsequent wash.
Dr Teo Tee Hui, council member from The Institution of Engineers, Singapore, advised: "If there is dirt and dust on the mask, or if the user has been in a crowded place, it is advisable to wash the mask after use and to continue washing it regularly."
Retiree Helen Wong, 70, who was collecting masks for her family of five at Anchorvale Community Centre on Monday, said that she looks forward to not having to wash the masks as frequently.
"We use cloth masks most of the time, which I wash daily, but after a while the quality isn't as good anymore, and the mask would appear crumpled," she told The Straits Times in Mandarin.
"I will most probably reserve the new masks for when I travel to high-risk or crowded places, as it offers better protection."
The masks come in four sizes - small, medium, large and extra-large. Small-sized masks are available only for children aged eight and younger, and can be collected at community centres and clubs, Plaza Singapura and Temasek Shophouse.
The sizes are different compared with masks in the previous collection, so people are advised to check for the best fit, Temasek Foundation said.
At Sengkang Community Centre, staff were seen holding measuring cards to help residents determine which size they should pick.
Freelancer Algean Ong, 50, collected an L-sized mask for himself, and M-sized one for his wife.
He intends to let his daughter, who is in Secondary 1, try the M-sized mask to check its fit before collecting one for her.
"I'm glad that the masks given out by the Government keep improving in quality each round," he told ST.
Student Vithiya T, 23, collected an L-sized mask which she hopes would be more comfortable compared with the Proshield masks given out in December.
"I found the netting in the previous mask quite uncomfortable, so I'm hoping these ones will be more comfortable," she said.
For more information on stock availability at collection points and the mask sizing guide, visit this website.