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No Temasek Foundation mask distribution exercise on Aug 4, photo online from pilot trial: Ho Ching

No Temasek Foundation mask distribution exercise on Aug 4, photo online from pilot trial: Ho Ching

FILE PHOTO: Office workers wearing masks cross a street during lunch hour, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Singapore May 12, 2021. REUTERS/Dawn Chua

SINGAPORE: There is no mask distribution exercise on Wednesday (Aug 4), said Temasek Foundation, after a photo of a banner advertising the giving out of masks made its rounds online. 

The banner, which features the Temasek Foundation logo and branding from the organisation's Stay Prepared initiative, said individuals could collect 50 free medical masks and 25 free N95 masks on Aug 4 with every Singapore Power bill. 

The banner also said the masks could be collected at selected Capitaland malls and supermarket outlets

“We know some of you have received a photo about a mask distribution that's happening today,” said the foundation in the Facebook post on Wednesday afternoon, using the hashtag #fakenews. 

“There isn't one today, but we're conducting operational trials for the distribution of medical and N95 masks. This will start in late August or early September.”


Temasek Holdings chief executive Ho Ching also addressed the issue on Facebook, and said that it was “half true, half not true”. 

The foundation is working with Capitaland malls and participating supermarkets to trial the collection of masks using household bills, and the photo is from a pilot trial at one of the malls, she said. 

“Not true that public collection starts Aug 4. What is happening from Aug 4 onwards is an end to end pilot, not open to the general public,” she wrote in her post on Wednesday afternoon. 

“The idea is to integrate the scanning of SP household bills into the backend of the various systems with the different participating malls and supermarkets.” 

This exercise was originally intended to start next week, after National Day, but has been rescheduled for the end of August to give participating organisations more time to complete and test their systems, said Mdm Ho. 

“So while the teams are working towards an end August start for public collection, this could be pushed later into September if there are any outstanding backend issues that need more time to be resolved.”

She had said in July that the foundation would give out disposable medical-grade surgical, N95 masks after National Day (Aug 9). 

There will be another distribution exercise for povidone-iodine mouth gargle, which can be used as a mouth spray, in September or October, she said at the time. 


In her post on Wednesday, Mdm Ho said the foundation is offering free medical-grade surgical masks because the Delta variant is twice as contagious as previous COVID-19 variants. 

“With an infectivity of 5 to 6 others for each COVID patient, we need 80% of a population to wear 80% effective masks or better to squeeze down the infection numbers,” she wrote. 

“There are many kinds of face masks in the market of varying quality. The reusable double layer masks as well as many of the pleated disposal masks can offer protection of about 80%.

“With the medical-grade surgical and N95 masks with effectiveness of 95% or better, we have an additional option for better protection.” 

The masks can last beyond their expiry date if kept under dry and air-tight conditions away from direct sunlight, said Ms Ho. 

For masks kept in their cardboard box in the bathroom, the humidity will shorten the lifespan of the mask, she added. 

“In general, we can expect a drop of about 2 to 3% effectiveness every year, for a surgical or N95 mask. So after a year, a 98% effective mask will be say 95% effective,” she wrote in the post. 

“An a 95% effective mask will take 4 to 5 years to drop to 80% effectiveness, still better than normal face masks found in the market.”

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Source: CNA/hw


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