Giving a remark on Novel Coronavirus (nCov) situation in Singapore on Saturday (8 Feb), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that Singapore is much better prepared to tackle with coronavirus after underwent SARS 17 years ago.
PM Lee noted that the government is well-prepared and will be stepping up its medical measures in fighting the coronavirus.
“Practically, we have stockpiled adequate supplies of masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). We have expanded and upgraded our medical facilities, including the new National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID). We have more advanced research capabilities to study the virus. We have more well trained doctors and nurses to deal with this situation. We are psychologically better prepared too,” PM Lee said.
PM Lee further explained that the move of raising country’s Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level to Orange is a result of infected cases from unknown origin. “These worried us, because it showed that the virus is probably already circulating in our own population,” he remarked.
However, he cited the example on country’s measures during H1N1 swine flu in 2009, saying that the people do not need to panic due to the raising of the DORSCON level as the city is not on lock-down nor is everyone confined to stay at home.
He also added that the essential supplies are sufficient and the people do not need to stock up with instant noodles, tinned food, or toilet paper where some of the supermarkets are reportedly clearing quickly following the DORSCON’s announcements on Friday (7 Feb).
PM Lee urged everyone to play their own role in whatever situations by observing the personal hygiene, checking temperature twice daily, and if feeling unwell, avoid crowded places and see a doctor immediately.
“These simple steps do not take much effort, but if we all do them, they will go a long way towards containing the spread of the virus,” said PM Lee.
He also foresaw the increase of cases with unknown contacts in days to come, where they would need to reconsider the strategy.
“If the virus is widespread, it is futile to try to trace every contact. If we still hospitalise and isolate every suspect case, our hospitals will be overwhelmed,” he said.
Noting the low fatality rate like flu, PM Lee encouraged the mild symptoms patient to see their family GP, and rest at home instead of going to the hospital, and let hospitals and healthcare workers focus on the most vulnerable patients – the elderly, young children, and those with medical complications.
However, he stated that Singapore is not at that point yet while added, “It may or may not happen, but we are thinking ahead and anticipating the next few steps. And I am sharing these possibilities with you, so that we are all mentally prepared for what may come.”
PM Lee is confident of the medical outcome of the virus outbreak in which most Singaporeans should remain well, and of those who get ill most should expect to recover.
Notwithstanding the proper precautionary measures, PM Lee also remarked that social cohesion and psychological resilience are the key parts of fighting the virus together.
He said, “Fear and anxiety are natural human reactions. We all want to protect ourselves and our families from what is still a new and unknown disease. But fear can do more harm than the virus itself.”
Adding that the fear could cause panic among the public or do things which worsen the situation – circulating rumours online, hoarding facemasks or food, or blaming particular groups for the outbreak, PM Lee urged Singaporeans to take courage and together battle this stressful time.
Upon hearing what PM Lee delivered in his message, many netizens agreed that fear and panic would only worsen the current situation and call out Singaporeans to unite and fight the virus together.
One of the netizens commented that the reaction from the community following the announcement of DORSCON level which raised to Orange in the country has indicated that the public is not psychologically prepared for the risk happened.
However, some netizens are not convinced at PM Lee’s effort to reassure the public in his message.
Meanwhile, a handful of them questioned government on the supply of masks and sanitizers for the people.