S'poreans buy up N95 masks by the box, experts in S'pore recommend surgical masks instead


Nyi Nyi Thet | January 23, 2020, 12:23 AM

In what appears to be a response to the current Wuhan pneumonia outbreak, N95 masks are sold out at several pharmacy outlets across Singapore.

Several Guardian outlets including the ones at Star Vista, Somerset, and Bedok Mall have run out of stock.

Mothership understands that the Star Vista outlet ran out of stock the previous night, January 21, 2020.

Some customers at Bedok Mall reportedly bought the masks by the box, while others streamed in during lunch break to purchase the masks.

Here are some of the empty boxes.

Earlier this afternoon, the Guardian shop at Compass One was only left with the smaller sizes.

Online demand is insane as well.

Here is Watson's online shop.

Image from Watsons

All sold out.

And just look at the disparity of views between a mask and another product.

An assistant pharmacist manager Mothership spoke to said that people were buying the masks in cartons as soon as the shop restocked at around 12pm.

"They will just buy the whole box, we didn't even get to unpack it yet.

The demand is understandable especially when the news said that the disease can spread from human to human."

While demand might be understandable, the executive director for the National Centre for Infectious Diseases, Leo Yee Sin, told The Straits Times the masks might not be as effective as people might hope.

Leo basically told ST that if it is not difficult to breathe in the mask, it is not working properly. So probably no protection.

The same ST article quoted MOH group director of operations as recommending face masks and surgical masks over the N95 masks if they fall sick.

One reason for that could be due to the nature of surgical masks.

According to an MOH FAQ on haze, "Surgical masks were designed to protect the surrounding environment from the user’s own spit or mucous. Healthcare professionals use them (e.g. in an operating theatre) to prevent their own germs from infecting the patient".

It is also important to note that there are, as of now, no confirmed cases in Singapore.

Here are some health precautions you can take in order to stay safe.

· Avoid contact with live animals including poultry and birds, and consumption of raw and undercooked meats;

· Avoid close contact with people who are unwell or showing symptoms of illness;

· Observe good personal hygiene;

· Practise frequent hand washing with soap;

· Wear a mask if you have respiratory symptoms such as a cough or runny nose;

· Cover your mouth with a tissue paper when coughing or sneezing, and dispose the soiled tissue paper in the rubbish bin immediately; and

· Seek medical attention promptly if you are feeling unwell.

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