Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said on Tuesday (28 January) that robust measures have been implemented to ensure that pre-schoolers are adequately protected amidst this Wuhan virus outbreak.
After a visit to a My First Skool centre in Buangkok were he observed these measures being put in place, Mr Lee stressed to reporters the importance of these measures as well as other measures the government has made to help students and teachers.
One of these precautions implemented at the My First Skool will be to take the temperatures of parents as they drop off their children. On top of that, students and staff who have visited China in the last 14 days and moving forward will have to take a leave of absence.
“These are measures which are needed to ensure the well-being of our children and pre-school staff,” he said.
Mr Lee added that these extra precautionary measures are implemented in pre-schools and other social facilities because these places generally have more vulnerable communities like young children, persons with disabilities, the elderly and so on.
He went on to reassure parents by saying, “For parents, please be assured that we have robust measures in place; we are working closely with our pre-school operators.”
As of today (30 January), a total of 10 cases for the Wuhan virus has been confirmed in the country. All these cases are Chinese nationals from Wuhan. The World Health Organisation (WHO) said in its latest situation report that there have been 132 deaths globally so far due to the virus.
Mr Lee noted that out of the 25,000 teaching and programme staff in pre-schools, ‘early estimates’ show that around 500 to 600 pre-school teachers had gone to or will be returning from China. On top of that, about 1,000 pre-school students have gone or will be returning from China as well.
My First Skool, with its 140 centres around the country, has rolled out measures such as increased cleaning of its facilities and increased temperature taking to safeguard students and staff, said General Manager Ms Thian Ai Ling.
“On a daily basis, we’ve always paid close attention to personal hygiene,” said Ms Thian.
“Given the current situation, what we have stepped up is an additional layer of temperature taking as well as (during) multiple periods throughout the day, we are closely watching our children’s well-being, ensuring that they do not show any symptoms.
“Should they do, we will contact parents immediately.”
Mr Lee noted that further steps could be required down the road should the situation change.
“The situation is fluid and evolving, the Government will look at the available information and evidence, look at the international guidelines and we may need to take further steps as the situation evolves,” he said.
Speaking to parents at the My First Skool centre in Buangkok, Channel NewsAsia reported seeing staff members in surgical masks taking the temperature of parents and students and ensuring that hands were sanitised before entering the premises.
Parents were, reportedly, generally satisfied with the measures being implemented, with one parent noting that the centre would take extra precautions when there’s a typical outbreak of hand, foot, and mouth diseases.
However, there were parents who were concerned about some who might not have been totally honest about their travel history.
“Not only parents but relatives as well, as we do not know whether the (other) children might have relatives who came back from China.” said Mdm Janani Rajendran.
“I was considering keeping my child at home because we don’t know what are the odds.”