The Ministry of Health has 16 million N95 masks stowed away and this national stockpile will be released to retailers and grassroots organisations to meet public demand if the haze situation escalates.
This is in addition to 280,000 masks already in the inventories of major retailers here, said Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Transport Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, who shared this in Parliament yesterday in response to a question from Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Yee Jenn Jong.
Singapore’s air quality crept into the “moderate” range for the first time since August, as the three-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) readings climbed to 51 at 11am yesterday.
The 24-hour PSI reading was 44 to 51 as at 9pm, while the three-hour reading was 53. In a statement yesterday, the National Environment Agency said the slightly elevated readings were probably due to local wind convergence over land areas, contributing to the accumulation of particulate matter. Forty-eight hot spots were detected in Sumatra yesterday.
“For the next few days, the prevailing north-easterly winds will keep any transboundary haze from Sumatra away from Singapore. However, we may experience occasional slight haze due to the accumulation of particulate matter under stable atmospheric conditions,” an NEA spokesperson said.
Last year, when the Republic experienced its worst-ever haze episode, N95 masks were sold out at some retail outlets, sparking off panic and frustration. Singapore had a stockpile of nine million masks last June, of which 4.15 million were distributed in the same month.
Yesterday, Associate Professor Faishal assured that sufficient masks are available, noting that 1.7 million masks were “forward-positioned” to retailers and the community centres and clubs in January due to heightened volcanic activity in Indonesia.
Asked by Mr Yee about N95 masks for children, Assoc Prof Faishal said there is currently no such model in the market, adding that N95 masks are generally not needed for periods of short exposure such as commuting.
“Nevertheless we are very mindful about our workers, especially those doing essential services. We have worked with organisations to look at how we can facilitate the distribution and usage of N95 masks when the haze situation comes to a very unhealthy situation,” he said.