The Singapore government has taken proactive steps to secure essential supplies, including masks, to combat the COVID-19 outbreak in the city-state.
The Ministry of National Development (MND), in a written reply in Parliament to a question by Ang Mo Kio MP Gan Thiam Poh, said “many lessons have been drawn from past experiences to improve readiness” for the outbreak.
Gan had asked what lessons could be learnt from the current COVID-19 outbreak, what could be improved to better equip Singaporeans against a pandemic and whether the government will include the production of masks and medical protective gears as a strategic facility and support the investment of these kinds of facilities in Singapore.
The reply emphasised the responsibility of the individual and swift measures taken to combat the COVID-19 disease in the early stages.
“Even before Singapore had its first confirmed case, we anticipated that we would need a whole-of-Government effort to respond effectively to this threat and we set up the Multi-Ministry Taskforce on January, 22, 2020 to coordinate our responses and measures. Since then, the Taskforce has put in place a whole range of measures from border controls to extra precautions within Singapore,” the reply read.
Issues like personal hygiene, supporting society around them, and being careful not to spread undue fear were also pointed out as precautions in the current scenario.
As for the production of masks, MND said they are looking towards “developing local manufacturing capabilities” after some places like Taiwan, Thailand and India have banned or tightened regulations on mask exports.
“We are therefore strengthening the resilience of our supply chain, including looking for new sources, and developing local manufacturing capabilities,” the MND stated.
The reply also said that it was important not to spread unverified information or false news which can cause panic and fear, adding the Government would push timely information through various platforms including broadcast media, display panels in HDB estates, websites and social media about the outbreak.