On Sunday (23 February), the Ministry of Health (MOH) released a statement urging the people of Singapore to avoid non-essential travels to two areas in South Korea – Daegu city and Cheongdo county. This announcement was made following the high number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country.
South Korea reported 161 more coronavirus cases on Monday (24 February), taking the nationwide total to 763 and making it the world’s largest total outside China.
In MOH’s statement, it stated that people who have to travel to other areas in South Korea should be careful, and always keep an eye on the latest developments. They should also take close notice of the local authorities’ advice.
From Sunday onward, the meaning of “suspected cases” has included people suffering from pneumonia or severe respiratory infection with breathlessness who have visited one or both these places within 14 days before the symptoms have shown.
People who fall in this category will be taken to hospitals for further assessment. If that’s not all, MOH also said that officers will scan for visitors who show respiratory symptoms at immigration checks and at aerobridges for flights arriving from South Korea.
Anyone who has travelled to Daegu and Cheongdo in recent times will also be asked to identify themselves.
South Korea has seen a rapid surge in the number of coronavirus cases — adding more than 700 cases in less than a week — since a cluster of infections emerged from a religious sect in the southern city of Daegu.
Hundreds of members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in the southern city of Daegu, including 129 of Monday’s confirmations, have now been infected, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement.
It all started with a 61-year-old woman who developed a fever on February 10 but attended at least four church services in Daegu before being diagnosed.
Two more people had died, it added — both of them connected to a second cluster around a hospital in Cheongdo — taking the toll to seven.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Sunday raised the country’s virus alert to the highest “red” level, in a bid to strengthen the government response to the spiralling outbreak.
Singapore’s MOH also pointed out that notices will be given out to all travellers arriving at Changi Airport from South Korea, detailing on what measures they should keep in mind when visiting to or coming from the affected areas.
“Once a case is confirmed, contact tracing will be initiated, and we will implement strict isolation, quarantine, and infection control and prevention measures to prevent further transmission,” said MOH.
Previously, Singapore also issued an advisory for Singaporeans to put off all travel to Hubei province in China and all non-essential travel to mainland China still remains.
Prior to MOH’s announcement, South Korea had earlier issued travel advisories urging its citizens to avoid non-essential travel to Singapore, amid the spread of coronavirus here in the Republic.
According to Korea Times, the foreign ministry of South Korea announced on Tuesday (11 February) that citizens are advised to reduce traveling to China, Singapore and five other Asian countries as a part of efforts “to prevent the inflow of the novel coronavirus into the country through a third nation”.