Singapore on high alert following quarantine of Wuhan city

National Centre for Infectious Disesase (Image source: Lam Pin Min Facebook)

Singaporeans are advised to refrain from unnecessary travel to Wuhan in the wake of novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak which killed 17 people and infected more than 500 in Wuhan and other parts of China.

Ministry of Health (MOH) has issued a public health travel advisory on Wednesday (22 Jan) reminding the public to exercise caution and attention to personal hygiene when travelling to the rest of China.

“If you need to travel to the affect areas, please regularly check MOH’s website at www.moh.gov.sg for updates. Travellers to China are advised to stay vigilant, monitor developments and heed the advice of the local Chinese authorities while in China,” the statement on MOH’s Facebook page read.

MOH also advised the travellers to monitor their health closely for two weeks upon return to Singapore and seek medical attention promptly if they feel unwell and also to inform the doctor of their travel history.

In response to the rapidly evolving situation of the Wuhan virus, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong also announced that a multi-ministry taskforce has been set up in preparation for any eventuality.

Mr Gan said that it is crucial to ensure Singapore is prepared and mounted with effective response over the worrisome situation as human-to-human transmission has been confirmed in the outbreak of the virus.

As a result of heavy traffic in and out of Singapore, Mr Gan remarked, “It is inevitable that we will see an imported case sooner or later.”

The taskforce will be co-chaired by Mr Gan and National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.

Following this, Mr Wong took to his Facebook on 22 Jan to say, “MOH is at the frontline dealing with this public health issue. But it requires a whole-of-government, even a whole-of-Singapore, response. That’s why the Ministry of Health, Singapore has set up a Multi-Ministry Taskforce and Health Minister Gan Kim Yong has asked me to co-chair the Taskforce with him.”

Meanwhile, advisories have been issued to the preschool and student care centres by Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) to inform them of precautionary measures to ensure the well being of children and staff.

“As infants and young children are more vulnerable to infectious diseases, preschool staff are advised to defer non-essential travel to Wuhan during this period,” MSF said in the statement on Thursday (23 Jan).

Reported by Channel News Asia, Singapore Airlines and Scoot have implemented  precautionary approaches for all flights to and from China, such as inflight announcements, standard protocol for suspected cases, inflight health advisories and temperature screening of passengers on the ground.

As of 22 Jan, MOH has identified three additional suspect cases involving a 3 year-old male Chinese national, a 4 year-old male Chinese national, and a 78 year-old female Singapore resident – all of whom had travelled to China.

The suspected patients have been admitted for further assessment and treatment and are currently being isolated. They are reportedly in stable condition.

Wuhan is sealed-off

As the outbreak of the life-threatening coronavirus escalates, the Chinese city of Wuhan has been sealed off from all transits and is under effective quarantine.

China authorities announced that flights and trains out of the city will be temporarily suspended from 0200 GMT on Thursday, while the city’s public buses, subway and long-distance coaches are also halted until further notice.

“Without a special reason, city residents should not leave Wuhan,” the central city’s special command centre to combat the virus said, according to state media.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Emergency Committee which supposed to meet on Wednesday (22 Jan) to discuss on the new coronavirus agreed to reconvene the meeting on Thursday (23 Jan), giving the reason that the situation with this new coronavirus is evolving and complex.

Speaking on this, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “The decision about whether or not to declare a public health emergency of international concern on new coronavirus is one I take extremely seriously, and one I am only prepared to make with appropriate consideration of all the evidence.”

 

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