Singapore prepares for more hazy days

SINGAPORE - Despite the better quality air and the reprieve from the haze the past few days, the Government continued to roll out preparation plans as it cautioned that the respite could be short-lived.

"Our latest meteorological assessment is that the haze in this region is likely to persist for quite some time more, and Singapore remains at risk," Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan said.

Visiting cleaners and a water treatment plant, he outlined how cleaning and waste collection services could be slowed if the haze returned with a vengeance, and urged Singaporeans not to let their guard down.

However, he also gave the assurance that the country's clean water supply was not in danger, as its treatment and distribution process is largely automated.

"Whatever happens, your water is going to continue to flow from your taps, and your water is going to be good and safe to drink," he said.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry said in a statement that it is working with manufacturers and suppliers to replenish its stocks and to ensure there are enough masks here.

To date, it has released a total of 4.15 million N95 masks from its stockpile. This includes one million masks which have gone to the People's Association for distribution to low-income families, and the balance to retailers.

"The cost of the masks, including transport and storage, is recovered from the retailers," the ministry said in a reply to queries from The Straits Times.

It warned the public against counterfeit masks, and advised consumers to buy masks from major supermarkets and pharmacies.

People are also advised to approach the manufacturers or distributors if they doubt the authenticity of the masks.

The Education Ministry said it is also monitoring the haze situation closely, ahead of the start of the school term next week.

It will refer to the authorities' health advisories and will work with schools to "put in place appropriate measures to ensure the well-being of our students and staff", said a spokesman.

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