The Wuhan virus situation is getting serious.
And it’s not just in China where the virus originated; it has spread all over the globe. On Saturday (25 Jan), Singapore confirmed its fourth case of the deadly disease, with 92 suspected cases yet to be confirmed.
That’s why the government is taking drastic action before things get worse.
New Measures in S’pore for Wuhan Virus
The newly-formed Wuhan virus ministerial taskforce announced that several new measures will be introduced to contain the Wuhan coronavirus.
According to CNA, the task force is co-chaired by Health Minister Gan Kim Yong and National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.
1. No non-essential travel to China
One of the measures is a travel advisory urging people to defer all non-essential travel to mainland China, an extension from an earlier advisory to defer all travel to Hubei, the province that houses Wuhan.
Mr Wong said they’re doing this because the Chinese government has described the situation as “grave” and said the virus is getting stronger and infections will continue to rise.
2. Enhanced temperature screening
At the moment, temperature screening is only conducted for passengers on flights from China at air checkpoints.
But authorities will now implement temperature screening for all incoming flights by Wednesday, Mr Wong said.
Thermal scanners will be deployed at the piers of the airport to cover all incoming flights.
If travellers exhibit fever or respiratory symptoms, or have relevant travel history to Hubei, they will be referred to nursing stations.
There will, of course, be additional attention given to flights from mainland China at the aerobridge.
These include visual identification of unwell travellers for evaluation by the medical team.
The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) will also check passengers who possess passports issued in Hubei.
Such passengers will be examined to ensure that they are well, and to obtain their contact details to expedite subsequent contact tracing if required.
3. Extra precautions for students
Given the situation in China, it’s no surprise that there will be “extra precautions” for those returning from the virus-hit country.
Students returning from China from Tuesday (28 Jan) will be given a Leave of Absence (LOA) for 14 days to minimise close contact with others.
4. Extra precautions for workforce
Organisations have also been advised to collect health and travel declarations from employees returning from mainland China from Tuesday.
Mr Wong explained that they are doing this now because they are expecting more people to return after Chinese New Year.
There will also be more stringent precautions for the staff of schools, healthcare, and eldercare facilities – organisations with vulnerable populations.
Employers in these fields will need to issue a Leave of Absence for 14 days upon their workers’ return to Singapore.
So, if you’re returning from China and your boss wants you to keep working like a dog, tell them the government has ordered you to take a break.
Other organsations are encouraged to follow these measures as well.
Now, before you start panicking, Mr Wong stressed that there is no evidence that there is community spread of the virus in Singapore at the moment.
But things could change, and so we have to be “proactive and rational in our response”, he said.
He also pointed out that we can’t rely on the government alone to tackle this epidemic; we have to do our part too.
So, what can you do?
Here are some tips that you might have read billions of times before but still should read again:
- Avoid contact with live animals
- Observe good personal hygiene
- Wear a mask if you have respiratory symptoms like cough or shortness of breath
- Avoid crowded places and close contact with people who are unwell or showing symptoms of illness
- Wash your hands frequently with soap
- Cover your mouth with a tissue paper when coughing or sneezing and dispose of the soiled tissue in the bin immediately