MOH advises public to wear masks with ‘good filtration capability’ with spread of new COVID-19 variants

The use of masks will continue to be one of the key public health strategies in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.

Khalisa Zulkiflee

Creative writer and comedian on the side.

Published: 19 May 2021, 2:08 PM

Members of the public are recommended to use masks with good filtration capability following the recent surge in community cases and spread of COVID-19 virus variants in Singapore. 

This includes reusable masks made of at least two layers of fabric and surgical masks, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in a press release on May 18. 

Both single-use and reusable masks should have at least 95 per cent bacterial filtration efficiency. This filtration efficiency can usually be found as part of product specifications for single-use masks. 

Reusable masks issued by the People’s Association and Temasek Foundation also have good filtration capability, MOH added. 

“There is growing evidence that new variants can spread through aerosolised particles, which means that all the precautions we are used to may not be sufficient to safeguard against the spread of the virus, and we need even more stringent measures,” said co-chair of COVID-19 multi-ministry task force and Minister of Finance Lawrence Wong. 

The minister also mentioned the use of surgical masks or masks with a filter insert as examples of masks the general public should be wearing. 

The use of masks with exhalation vents are discouraged as it is not adequate to prevent  infection spread. The public is also reminded to replace their reusable masks once they are used or washed beyond the recommended number of times.

MOH and the Health Science Authority will issue guidelines to aid the public in choosing good masks. 

As of May 18, MOH confirmed 27 new locally-transmitted COVID-19 cases, as well as four new clusters.

Minister of Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong assured Singaporeans that there is “no need to panic and no need to rush to buy additional masks to stock up masks.” 

He explained that Singapore already has the local capabilities to produce surgical masks and is looking to increase imports of surgical masks. 

Mr Wong also thanked Singaporeans and other residents for complying with the tighter measures, and appealed to the public to only go out for essential activities. 

He said: “I know this has been very difficult and disruptive for all of you, and I want to thank you for doing your part to curb the spread of the virus. So let’s hunker down, keep our spirits up, continue to support each other, and we can get through this together.”

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