'Singapore’s response to virus is testament to resilient society'
6% of households received masks after first day of distribution, orderly collection lauded by ministers
The disciplined and orderly way the public has responded to the islandwide mask distribution shows a society that is cohesive and resilient, said Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran yesterday.
On the sidelines of a Chinese New Year celebration for residents at West Coast Vista Residents' Committee (RC) centre, Mr Iswaran said: "I've had many examples of people I've met who basically said they won't be collecting the masks because they have enough of their own, and that it's better to leave them for others who need it more.
"I think this speaks volumes about the kind of society that we are. This is something we should cherish and continue to reinforce in Singapore."
The Government said last Thursday that all 1.3 million households will get a pack of four masks each amid reports of shops running out of stock. Distribution began on Saturday and will end on Feb 9.
Around 6 per cent of all households had collected their masks by the end of distribution on Saturday, said Minister of Social and Family Development Desmond Lee at a separate event yesterday.
After visiting a mask collection centre at the RC centre at Block 47 Telok Blangah Drive, Mr Lee said: "People have been very calm.
"There's been a steady stream of Singaporeans and households collecting the masks. There aren't any reports of anxiety or distress."
He added that the authorities are pacing the distribution to ensure it is orderly.
There were almost no queues at collection centres visited by The Straits Times yesterday. There were more volunteers and staff manning the desks than residents queueing to collect masks.
A 68-year-old housewife who wished to be known only as Madam Chan was pleasantly surprised she could collect her set of masks at West Coast Heights RC within minutes.
She said in Mandarin: "I thought there would be a crowd, because everyone kept saying the stores have run out of stock. I'm very happy with how well-organised this has been."
Any masks left over will be put to good use, said Mr Iswaran.
The Ministry of Health will decide on the next step in such a case, he said.
"Clearly, our highest priority is to ensure our healthcare services are well supplied with these masks because they are at the front line in many ways, and therefore we need to ensure they are well resourced to do the job they're doing."
Staff from the Ministry of Social and Family Development have been visiting facilities such as pre-schools and homes for people with disabilities to support front-line officers.
Mr Iswaran said: "Our public sector, officials and various agencies have all had to respond to a very fast-evolving situation, and then come together with a very clear plan of action, and then execute.
"That, again, attests to the mettle of our society and our public service, notwithstanding the fluid nature of the situation."