Updated: Apr 19, 2020
Contrary to popular belief or what the situation seems right now, we have a shortage of surgical masks that are available to the general population.
There are a few key issues and challenges that we needed to address:
The COVID-19 crisis is not going to be resolved anytime soon. Even after we remove the Circuit-Breaker, to resume life at work and in school, we will still need to stay vigilant to minimise loss of life through the disease.
We need to continue to flatten the curve. This will include the necessary social distancing, hand washing hygiene and continued use of masks. This is especially crucial to continue to keep the virus from spreading too rapidly before the effective deployment of a vaccine. When we flatten the curve, we are doing our best to delay the spread of the disease so that the medical system can cope.
The need for masks will increase after Circuit Breaker is lifted When the Circuit Breaker is lifted, the need for masks will heighten. As we resume life as best as we possibly can, there will be a lot more movement outside of our homes. This is where we must more than ever, continue habits to minimise the spread of the virus.
We need to ensure our local supply and minimise our risk of disruption In order to be able to meet the demand for masks in Singapore without being subjected to the external environment, we need a form of insurance - to guarantee that we will not be subject to export bans that we cannot control. We need to create a local source.
The general population must not compete with the frontline workers for masks The priority of the supply of masks still has to focus on supplying to the people in healthcare and essential services. We need to increase our stockpile or ensure that continued uninterrupted supply.
There is a global shortage of masks Beyond Singapore, there are currently a global shortage of masks. As the world attempts to move into the next phase, this shortage will escalate. There is a need to restart economies that has become dire as a global recession looms. Otherwise the recession will continue way after we manage the disease. This restarting has to begin even as we wait for a vaccine to be viable, which according to medical experts, is at least 12-18 months away.
The only way to do that was to setup a production facility in Singapore.
The Strengths Quotient Institute has been tracking the sequence of events relating to COVID-19 since January. We recognise that there are several gaps present in the system that does not work for us, and we've set up several structures to fill those gaps, especially through education.
SQI decided to support Bio-Labone Scientific Group's (BLSG) effort to set up a mask manufacturing facility because we are aligned with the intention for Singapore to be self-sufficient, especially with critical supplies. We anticipate several critical events in the coming months that will occur and are working with BLSG to mitigate some of the challenges that may occur from those events.
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