SINGAPORE — Face coverings such as neck gaiters, bandanas, scarves or handkerchiefs should not be used to prevent COVID-19 transmission, said the Ministry of Health (MOH).
In a media release on Saturday (29 August), the ministry said that these makeshift coverings may not have a good fit around a person’s nose and mouth. Furthermore, as these face coverings are made from materials that are not specific for disease prevention, they may not perform as well as purpose-built masks.
“To ensure transmission rates in the community are kept low, it is critical for every member of public to put on masks that are designed or made specifically to prevent disease transmission,” MOH said in the media release.
“A mask should be worn such that it closely and completely covers the wearer’s nose and mouth, without leaving a gap between the mask and the face.”
The issue on the efficacy of such face coverings was raised recently in Singapore after an incident in which a bus driver refused to allow a man wearing a neck gaiter to board the bus.
The ensuing argument, and the man’s attempt to shame the bus driver on social media, earned a rebuke from Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung, while others appealed to MOH to provide clearer guidelines.
Testing to community groups with high public interaction
Meanwhile, MOH plans to begin providing COVID-19 testing to community groups such as taxi and private-hire car drivers, food delivery personnel, key vendors servicing foreign worker dormitories, as well as stallholders at hawker centres, markets and similar food and beverages establishments such as coffeeshops.
While the ministry said that there has been no local evidence that these community groups are of higher risk of infection, it will nonetheless offer a one-time testing to them, given the nature of their working environment such as the high frequency of public interaction.
The cost of the test will be fully borne by the government.
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