Steady queue at supermarkets, pharmacies for free oximeter on first day of collection

SINGAPORE – A steady queue formed at various supermarkets and pharmacies on Monday (July 5) morning, the first day of the distribution of free oximeters to every household to curb Covid-19 infection spread.

The device, given out by Temasek Foundation, checks the oxygen level in the blood to detect early signs of a deterioration in health. It is meant to help the nation manage the spread of new and more infectious variants of the Covid-19 virus.

When The Straits Times visited supermarkets and pharmacies in Bishan, Clementi and Serangoon on Monday morning, a steady stream of 10 people were in line at each outlet.

Most of the people who collected their oximeters are either the elderly, or family members with seniors or children at home.

Housewife Elaine Lee, 70, who was collecting her oximeter at Guardian in Junction 8, said that her husband , also 70, is sick. The device will help to monitor their health. “I got this so we will be less worried,” she said.

Housewife Anna Tan, 73, who was collecting her oximeter at Unity in Clementi Mall said she could not be vaccinated. “After a health screen, I was identified to have possible allergies to the vaccine…I want to get the oximeter for peace of mind,” she said.

Housewife Joe Kashi, 44, said she is worried for her three young children as Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have not yet been approved for children under the age of 12. “I’m worried because there are new Covid-19 variants, which can be especially contagious,” she said.

Student Sahana Rajendrakumar, 16, who was collecting her oximeter at Watsons in Clementi Mall said her parents are in their 40s and 50s. Although they have been vaccinated, she is still concerned for their health. “Vaccination does not guarantee 100 per cent immunity. The oximeter can be a good way to check if oxygen levels drop to a low level, and get to the hospital faster,” she said.

Collection of the devices will last until Aug 5 at the more than 300 FairPrice, Sheng Siong, Giant, Cold Storage, Watsons, Unity and Guardian outlets.

Leaflets were distributed in the letter boxes of every household between June 28 and July 3 to allow each to receive one device. However, some residents had mistakenly thrown out the leaflets, which is the only way for claiming the device. Temasek Foundation said it was not able to issue new ones.

On Monday (July 5), some pharmacies had to turn away people who tried to collect the oximeters without the leaflet.

A part-time sales assistant at Guardian in Junction 8, who only wants to be known as Ms Rinah, said that one person tried to use his NRIC to collect the oximeter this morning but was turned away. “No instructions have been given so far on how to help those without their brochures,” Ms Rinah said.

ST understands that another pharmacy at Clementi Mall had to turn away six peolple who did not bring their leaflet.

Retiree ST Quek, 68, said he had initially thought the Temasek leaflet was only an information pamplet.

Mr Quek, who was collecting his oximeter at Cold Storage in Nex, said: “Perhaps the NRIC can be used to track which household has collected the device.”

Additional reporting by Cha Hae Won, Gabrielle Ng and Joyanne Li