How to stay safe during COVID-19
Frequent and proper hand washing is still the most effective protection against infectious outbreaks.

We highlight simple prevention measures that you can take to stay protected from COVID-19.

Although a common first instinct during an infectious outbreak is to think about wearing a face mask, do remember that wearing a face mask is just one part of an overall infection control strategy that should also include frequent hand washing, self-monitoring and responsible behaviour.

Monitor changes in your health

Paying close attention to changes in your health, especially if you've recently returned from an overseas trip.

Singapore health authorities are closely monitoring the recent outbreak of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019), a new SARS-related virus. If you experience flu-like symptoms, such as a fever, cough or sore throat, within 14 days upon returning to Singapore, you should:

  • Wear a mask and seek medical attention. Call the clinic ahead of your visit and inform the attending physician of your recent travel history;
  • Avoid visiting loved ones in a hospital, as warded patients are more susceptible to infection.
Other precautions

  • Observe good personal hygiene
  • Practise frequent hand washing with soap – we can't emphasise this enough (e.g. before handling food or eating, after going to toilet, or when hands are dirtied by respiratory secretions after coughing or sneezing)
  • Wear a mask if you have respiratory symptoms such as a cough or runny nose
  • Cover your mouth with a tissue paper when coughing or sneezing, and dispose the soiled tissue paper in the rubbish bin immediately
  • Avoid close contact with people who are unwell or showing symptoms of illness
  • Seek medical attention promptly if you are feeling unwell
  • From 15 Mar 2020, Singaporeans are advised to defer all non-essential travel abroad. This advisory will apply for 30 days, and will be reviewed thereafter. Check the MOH website for the latest measures (https://www.moh.gov.sg/covid-19).
    What you should know about face masks

    Face masks provide a physical barrier to prevent contaminants and pathogens from entering your nose and mouth. Conversely, they protect others from your own nose and mouth secretions. The two common types of face masks are:
    N95 masks

    Once properly fitted, the N95 mask (also known as an N95 respirator) should have no air gaps. Besides blocking splashes, sprays and droplets, the N95 mask is also capable of filtering very small particles such as viruses and tuberculosis. The 'N95' designation means that the respirator has been approved by NIOSH, a US occupational health and safety federal agency, and can block out at least 95 percent of small test particles. This makes the N95 mask ideal for infection control purposes.

    An N95 mask is reusable but should be replaced when it gets soiled or distorted in shape. It is important to note that using an N95 mask requires added effort in breathing and may cause discomfort, tiredness or headaches. For most users, this does not pose any serious dangers.

    However, people who already have reduced lung volumes or breathing issues, e.g. the elderly, people with lung or heart conditions and women in their later stages of pregnancy, should stop using the N95 mask immediately if they feel any discomfort.

    As a precaution, women in their second and third trimesters of pregnancy are advised not to use the N95 mask for more than a short duration each time. N95 masks are not certified for children use. They also cannot protect men with facial hair as it prevents a proper seal.

    Surgical masks

    When worn properly, a surgical mask helps block out large particle droplets, splashes or sprays that may contain germs. It is however unable to filter very small particles and its loose shape offers less protection than a properly fitted N95 mask.

    Surgical masks are intended for single-use only. If your face mask is damaged or soiled, replace it with a new one.

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