Singapore

No need for N95 masks to guard against Wuhan virus: Experts

N95 masks have been flying off the shelves here following the Wuhan virus outbreak that has killed nine in China.

But there is no need for Singaporeans to don this mask, said Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, director of medical services at the Ministry of Health (MOH).

At a press conference at the College of Medicine Building yesterday, he told the media: "Where there is public concern about infectious diseases, we are aware that the sales for N95 masks will go up, but there is no need to panic.

"The public don't actually need the N95 masks for the purpose that the mask is used for."

Permanent Secretary for the MOH Ng How Yue said that masks are still helpful in preventing sickness from spreading.

"The general advice is that if a person falls sick, they should wear a surgical face mask, not an N95 mask," he said.

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Surgical masks, which are meant to help block large-particle droplets and splatter, can help reduce the spread of a virus and are more practical for the general public to use.

The tighter-fitting N95 masks are designed to filter airborne particles and have been used here during the haze.

While surgical masks are recommended, N95 masks are selling quickly in pharmacies and online stores.

When The New Paper visited pharmacy chains such as Watsons, Guardian and Unity in Woodlands and Toa Payoh, stocks of N95 masks were sold out.

At Unity Pharmacy's Toa Payoh MRT station outlet, a staff member said that the store made an emergency order of an additional three cartons of N95 masks on Tuesday night.

Watsons Singapore said it saw an increase in mask sales and other health products.

Over at Guardian in Causeway Point, one customer, Undergrad Zheng Ke Xin, 21, got lucky as she entered the store just in time to get new stocks.

She said: "I read about N95 prices rising in China, so I wanted my family to have masks in case they all get sold out or become very expensive."

Online sales of N95 masks have also risen by over 26 times in the past two days, said a spokesman for Qoo10.

Shopee too, has seen 46 times more orders for N95 masks compared with two weeks ago, a spokesman said.

MEDICAL & HEALTH