BBC reported yesterday (21 Feb) that South Korea has stepped up measures to contain the spread of the deadly new coronavirus, as confirmed infections continue to increased sharply.
Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said it was now an emergency as 100 new cases were confirmed along with the country’s second death due to the virus.
South Korea which has a population of over 51 million, now has a total of more than 200 cases.
Many South Koreans are wearing masks on a daily basis. Warning signs from South Korean authorities are everywhere.
The signs read, “Three ways to prevent further infection: wear a mask at all times; wash your hands properly with soap for more than 30 seconds; and cover yourself when coughing.”
Koreans have also developed several apps and websites that tell you how much risk you face where you are. They show where the infected people are within a 10km radius.
The southern cities of Daegu and Cheongdo have been declared “special care zones”. The streets of Daegu are now largely abandoned.
All military bases are in lockdown after three soldiers tested positive. The South Korean authorities suspect the current outbreak originated in Cheongdo.
Meanwhile in Singapore, the government had earlier advised Singaporeans not to wear a mask if one is well, putting up ads on major newspapers. But it has toned down such calls after the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) was raised to Orange on 7 Feb.
Leaked audio recording of Chan Chun Sing
In fact, in a closed-door meeting at the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI), attended only by a group of businessmen and grassroots leaders, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing went on to disclose to them why the government is not in favor of Singaporeans wearing masks if they are deemed well.
In a leaked audio recording, Mr Chan can be heard saying, “Whether we have sufficient masks or not will depend on three factors: How much we have in our physical stockpile, our usage rate, and our resupply quantum and frequency.”
“We will have enough if we manage these three factors appropriately,” he asserted.
Mr Chan said that if Singapore follows Hong Kong’s leader, where political leaders appear at events wearing a mask, that would cause panic among the people and subsequently lead to a severe shortage of masks as everyone would use it “like tissue paper”.
He said, “If every Singaporean uses a surgical mask, one day we will burn five million masks, if not more. Since we don’t know how long we got to fight this war and the supply line has [been] cut already, [we must] conserve the surgical mask to make sure our medical system can still work.”
In other words, the Singapore government has only accumulated 5 million masks over the years for emergency use and they may not be enough for all if everyone starts using them daily like “tissue paper”.