SINGAPORE: A total of 400,000 migrant workers and 250,000 domestic helpers will receive face masks as part of efforts to improve the safety of foreign workers, said Temasek Foundation on Sunday (Apr 19).
The workers will be given 1.3 million reusable cloth masks that have a filter pocket, and 650,000 surgical masks that can be used to "provide additional filtration", the philanthropic arm of state investor Temasek Holdings said in a media release.
"Given recent clusters of outbreaks of COVID-19, it is important to provide our migrant workers with additional mask supplies for their protection," the foundation added.
Each worker will receive two reusable cloth masks and one surgical mask, it said.
The mask kits will be distributed in phases to migrant workers from Monday. The Migrant Workers' Centre will inform dormitory operators about collection details.
Masks for domestic helpers will be sent to their residential addresses from late May.
Since Apr 14, individuals must put on a mask when they are outside of their homes, with few exceptions.
Temasek Foundation is part of the "MaskForce" initiative, involving donors, non-governmental organisations and private-sector companies which have contributed more than S$3 million worth of donations - in cash or in kind - to produce the masks.
The "community-led" initiative is spearheaded by Senior Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth Sim Ann.
The reusable masks were produced by Singapore garment manufacturers Bodynits, Spring Knitwear, and Teo Garments, with the help of another 10 local apparel companies such as Danovel and Esta. It took a "record time" of two weeks to produce the masks, said Temasek Foundation.
Local tailor CYC contributed fabric for 20,000 masks, while Brother International Singapore contributed 12 sewing machines and repair services.
READ: 'I think about my family, not about me': A foreign worker stricken with COVID-19 has concerns far away
Ms Sim said the country is committed to keeping migrant workers safe amid the COVID-19 outbreak as they are “an integral part of the Singapore’s workforce" that have contributed to building Singapore's infrastructure and taking care of the community.
"MaskForce is now prepared to look beyond masks to equip migrant workers with even more items that are practical and helpful," she added.
In a Facebook post, Ms Sim said that the initiative will work with the Ministry of Manpower to ensure that the workers get the kits.
Manpower Minister Josephine Teo wrote on Facebook that she was "very touched" that people reached out to the ministry with offers to help the workers.
"Besides NGOs, the corporate community have also come on board," Mrs Teo said. "This community-led initiative complements the government’s efforts to take care of our migrant workers as we fight the COVID-19 outbreak."