Haze update: PSI reading inches up to 91, free masks for the poor from Sunday

SINGAPORE - Households with a per-capita income of $900 or less are each eligible to receive four free N95 masks, and may visit the Community Clubs/Centres (CCs) from 9am Sunday to collect them.

Here is the press release from the Ministry of Health:

The government will distribute free N95 masks to poorer households in all constituencies through the grassroots organisations from this weekend.

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The Singapore Armed Forces will help transport the masks to the community centres/ community clubs islandwide, and the People's Association will assist in its distribution.

Said Mr Gan Kim Yong, Minister for Health, "We understand the concerns by Singaporeans during this time. Haze-related ailments, such as irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, are generally not serious in nature for healthy individuals, but we do need to pay attention to the elderly and the young. Let's stay calm and take care of each other, especially our elderly and children. Keep them indoors and hydrated, and bring them to a clinic immediately if they feel unwell."

People's Association (PA) grassroots leaders have proactively started making house visits to distribute the masks to these residents from Saturday 22 June 2013.

Households with a per-capita income of $900 or less are eligible to receive free N95 masks, and may visit the Community Clubs/Centres from Sunday 23 June 2013, 9am for collection.

They will be verified through their membership in the Community Health Assist Scheme2 (CHAS) Blue scheme or through a simple self-declaration of income. Please refer to Annex A for a picture of the Blue Health Assist Card.

Those who have pre-existing diseases, particularly those with chronic medical conditions, heart and respiratory conditions, and have difficulty getting masks, can approach the Community Clubs/Centres for assistance.

Haze continues to hover at dangerous levels on June 20
Click on thumbnail to view (Photos: ST, TNP, The Star, AFP, Reuters)

Grassroots leaders have also distributed flyers with advice on health measures and included telephone numbers of their local Community Clubs/Centres and Residents Committees so that residents who need help have a convenient contact point. The flyers have also been put up on local noticeboards.

In total, about 200,000 households will receive 1 million N95 masks. Each household will be given four N95 masks.

The distribution exercise is expected to take several days. All efforts will be made to ensure the distribution is as prompt as possible. The public's patience and cooperation is sought during the distribution exercise.

Said Mr Ang Hak Seng, Chief Executive Officer of the People's Association, "The People's Association headquarters is coordinating the efforts of our 33,000 grassroots leaders who are out in full force, making house visits and identifying those who are vulnerable.

They have been distributing information leaflets on health measures and contact numbers of their local Community Club and Residents Committee Centre. They have proactively started distributing N95 masks to the sick, the elderly and to poorer households."

For the general public, N95 masks are not required indoors. N95 masks are required if outdoor activity is unavoidable, when the PSI exceed 300.

The sudden large demand for masks is causing supply chain bottlenecks. More masks will be made available to retail outlets. In particular, NTUC FairPrice will have masks early next week.

NTUC FairPrice will cap the price of these masks but also limit the number that each person can buy. This is to prevent the creation of artificial shortages.

The public is advised not to engage in panic buying and stockpiling. Retailers are reminded not to take advantage of the situation and jack up prices of masks in this critical period.

The MOH is working closely with hospitals, polyclinics and general practitioners, as well as key partners like People's Association, to ensure to our best efforts that the health of Singaporeans is protected despite the haze.

Those who are not feeling well are urged to seek medical treatment early. Singaporeans are urged to stay united and help take care of one another.

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