Incorrect to imply PAP Govt was not honest about mask requirements during early days of pandemic: Ong Ye Kung


It is incorrect to suggest that the PAP Government was not honest with Singaporeans about mask requirements in the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung in Parliament on Tuesday (Mar 21).

Minister Ong was responding to Opposition MP Gerald Giam who implied that the Government was not honest with Singaporeans about the need to wear masks not because of public health reasons, but because there was not enough masks.

PAP Govt’s mask policy was aligned with WHO’s

“This is incorrect,” said Minister Ong.

“In the initial stages of the pandemic, there was no clear understanding of the characteristics of the Covid-19 virus,” he explained.

And thus, the PAP Government aligned its mask-wearing policy with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO).

Up to March 2020, Minister Ong said, the WHO policy on mask-wearing was:

“a medical mask is not required for people who are not sick, as there is no evidence of its usefulness in protecting them”.

Indeed, the risk of a shortage of masks for healthcare workers was a serious concern, said the Health Minister, but it was not the basis of the PAP Government’s public policy on mask-wearing.

PAP Govt told the people what it knew

The Government only reviewed and updated its mask-wearing policy in April 2020 once the world had clearer evidence on how the virus spreads — namely that the virus can spread through asymptomatic transmission via aerosol.

“Nevertheless, as acknowledged in the White Paper, the whole issue of masking is one area where our decisions could have been better. But (there is) no question that during this period, the Government was totally forthright with the people and told the people what we knew.

Top image: Kingsley Yang on Unsplash