The “Wuhan virus” (2019-nCoV) is giving me major 2003-SARS deja vu vibes, and I don’t like it. And as if it isn’t enough that there’s the new pneumonia coronavirus going around, people are spreading fake news too — forwarding messages about miracle remedies and whatnot.
Ignore those. According to Ministry of Health (MOH), there is no community spread in Singapore yet, but we are advised to practise good hygiene habits like washing our hands regularly and wearing a mask if coughing and/or sneezing.
As expected, everyone “chiong-ed” to snap up supplies of surgical masks (which was recommended). Within days, retail stores ran out of stock islandwide. MOH stepped up to assure the public that there is sufficient stock available, but from online complaints and feedback, these blue-and-white sheets still seem very hard to procure: you’d have to camp at pharmacies to wait for new stock to arrive, before queueing for hours to pay.
If you need to buy surgical masks but can’t get your hands on them at the above-mentioned stores, here are 5 alternative online stores to try.
Note: The Government has announced (30 Jan 2020) that they are handing out some 5 million masks, with each household entitled to 4. Collection will be from 1 to 9 Feb 2020, at residents’ community centres (RCs) and community centres (CCs).
Surgical masks at Watsons, Guardian and Unity — OOS!
Usually the most “duh” places to look are the local pharmacies like Watsons, Guardian and Unity. Surgical masks at these “official” retailers are very affordable, at about $12 per box of 50 pieces. That comes up to only $0.24 per mask.
However, as mentioned, it’s sold out at most of these stores. As such, I looked online for alternatives.
Where else to buy surgical masks in Singapore
There are quite a few retailers on popular online marketplaces like Shopee, Lazada and etc, but thanks to the current shortage, they were significantly more expensive. Prices start from $8 for 10 pieces and go up to over $50 for a box of 50, which is more than 4X the price.
Personally, I find these scalpers quite sickening. But if you “bo pian” need to buy — perhaps you’re sick, or have young children and/or elderly at home — then here are the prices.
I’ve also included the availability (at the timing of writing, of course) because some are preorders and will only arrive mid-Feb 2020.
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Surgical masks on Lazada
|Little Things||$25 for 50s||Available|
|Creamo||$50 for 50s||Available|
|Jinfiltration||$49.90 for 50s (or $5.90 per piece)||Shipment arriving on 15 Feb 2020|
|Medpro||$59.99 for 50s (or $40 on medprosg.com)||Shipment arriving 14 Feb 2020|
The cheapest surgical masks I could find was on Lazada, sold by a shop called Little Things. And even then, it was $25 for 50 pieces, which is double the usual price.
If you’re a hardcore Lazada fan, you may already have the Citi Lazada Card, which gives you 10X rewards on your Laz shopping.
If not, there are still quite a few other cards that give you similar perks for online shopping in general (instead of just on Lazada). Read more about them here: Best Credit Cards in Singapore for Online Shopping
Surgical masks on Shopee
|Seller||Price||Availability at time of writing|
|Tyanhuey||$8 for 10s, $30 for 50s||Stock arriving on 2 Feb 2020|
|Albright_mart||$8 for 10s, $15 for 20s||Preorder, ships within 10 days (next shipment date is 5 Feb 2020)|
|Celinewah||$8.80 for 10s, $20.80 for 20s, $38.80 for 50s||Preorder, takes 2 to 3 weeks|
|Eloadsg||$9.90 for 5s, $18.99 for 10s||Ship within 10 days|
|Katetio||$29 for 50s||Preorder, ships within 12 days|
|Alexadang||$30 for 50s||Stock arriving on 2 Feb 2020|
Shopee seems a lot cheaper, but only because the retailers sell the masks in loosely (i.e. in 5s, 10s and 20s, instead of a box of 50). If you do the math, you’ll find that for those, the price per mask is actually a lot more (from $0.60).
The most worth-it one here is sold by merchant Katetio ($29 for 50) but it is preorder and can take up to 12 days to be mailed out.
If you want to stretch your Shopee dollar, be sure to check if there are any promo codes first: Shopee Promo Codes & Credit Card Discounts in Singapore
Surgical masks on Qoo10
|Medical Supplies||$10.99 for 5s||Available|
|Unique Lab||$25.80 for 30s||Available|
|Healingfactory||$28.90 for 50s||Available|
|EKSK MALL||$29.90 for 100s||Available|
|Medpro||$29.99 for 100s||Shipment arriving 15 Feb 2020|
|Okijean||$34.90 for 50s (min order 2 boxes)||Available|
|Bandi Mall||$35.90 for 50s||Available|
|K-Bin Shop||$38.90 for 50s||Sold out|
|MixCart||$49.80 for 50s||Shipment arriving 4 Feb 2020|
Of all the platforms, Qoo10 seems to have the most variety of retailers. They even have boxes of 100, which is more value for money.
I also noticed that a lot of sellers here promote K80 and K94 masks from Korea. However, from what I’ve read, it seems recommended for protection against fine dust particles, and not viruses per se.
Like Lazada, Qoo10 also has a special tie-up with a bank. This time, it’s Bank of China for the BOC Qoo10 Mastercard. Read about it here: BOC Qoo10 Mastercard Review – Should Singaporeans Sign Up?
If you want rewards points / air miles or cash rebates instead of, you know… Qoo10 credits… Consider the Citi Rewards Card (10X rewards) or the CIMB Visa Signature (10% cashback on online shopping).
Surgical masks on Amazon
|Nenky Co.||$39.99 for 50s||Arrive by 25 Feb to 5 Mar 2020|
|HCOT||$49.99 for 50s||Arrive by 19 to 25 Feb 2020|
|Tungcu SG||$49.99 for 50s||Arrive by 19 to 25 Feb 2020|
|Graspwind-SG||$45.99 for 50s||Arrive by 18 to 25 Feb 2020|
Amazon is another marketplace that sells surgical masks. However, the options here seem a lot more expensive, and would only reach end-Feb 2020, which is quite late.
Who knows what the situation would be by then?
There are no Amazon credit cards in Singapore, so if you’re shopping on Amazon.com, you can just go ahead and pick any online shopping credit card.
Surgical masks on Carousell
Ah… Not forgetting the scalper’s playground, Carousell.
Most of the listings are around $30 to $50 for a box of 50 surgical masks, but of course, there are some ridiculous ones that are over $2 per piece.
Carousell doesn’t accept credit card payment, so sorry, no air miles or cashback to be had here.
Bonus tip — how to wear surgical masks
There’s been quite a lot of conversation on which masks to wear and how to wear them.
The N95 mask offers more protection, but it is a bit of an overkill. Additionally, it is very uncomfortable and hard to breathe in. Hence, according to MOH, a surgical mask is sufficient.
Additionally, a mask is only really recommended for those who happen to be currently unwell too (coughing, sneezing). If you’re healthy, you don’t really need to wear one.
For surgical masks, you should wear it with the blue side facing outwards. Pinch the metal strip along the top of the mask to fit your nose bridge, and stretch the bottom of the mask to cover your chin.
Would you pay this much for a surgical mask? Tell us in the comments below.