140 S’poreans Still in Wuhan; 4 of Them Have Symptoms & The Rest Refused to Come Back


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A while back, I penned an article pertaining to the evacuation of 92 Singaporean citizens from Wuhan, and clarified that it was not the total figure; some Singaporeans in Wuhan were unable to board the special flight back home as they already exhibited symptoms.

But just how many Singaporeans were left stranded in Wuhan, a city that since has been branded the ‘centre of the coronavirus outbreak’? The answer, it seems, lies in the tragic number of 140:

4 of whom displayed symptoms, and 136 Singaporeans who refused to return.

140 S’poreans Still in Wuhan; 4 of Them Have Symptoms & The Rest Refused to Come Back

According to National Development Minister Lawrence Wongan estimated 140 Singaporeans remain in the Chinese city of Wuhan amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The statement was made in Parliament on Monday (3 Feb) and was subsequently reported on by TODAYonline.

According to the report, Mr Wong revealed that four other Singaporeans have been unable to board an evacuation flight last week: three displayed symptoms of the virus and were deemed unfit to fly, while one was hospitalised.

As for the rest of the personnel, their refusal to leave stems from various reasons, including an unwillingness to leave their non-Singaporean spouses behind.

Mr Wong, however, clarified that the Singapore mission in Beijing has been in correspondence with the 140 Singaporeans, and that specific arrangements are being made with the Chinese authorities.

“We believe there are still about 140 Singaporeans in Wuhan now — most of them have spouses who may not be Singaporeans and so they have either chosen to remain in China for the time being or they would like to come back, and we have to work out the arrangements because it is not so straightforward being married to a non-Singaporean,” said Mr Wong, who co-chairs a task force coordinating Singapore’s response to the virus.

“We are still in touch with the Chinese authorities to see what else can be done for the group of people who wish to come back, and we are also in touch with the Singaporeans directly.”

He also clarifies that as of this current moment, the taskforce is not aware of any Singaporeans outside of the Hubei province who have been infected with the virus.


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Concerns

Nee Soon GRC MP Lim Wee Kiak also posed a very pertinent question: what medical help is being provided for the four in Wuhan who were unable to board last week’s flight, and could the three Singaporeans who showed symptoms be evacuated to Singapore in any case?

“I hope the Government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will work harder now to see whether we can evacuate them back,” he said.

In response, Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said it would be “most unwise” to situate ill personnel on commercial aircraft, especially when a global epidemic’s going on.

“So there was good medical rationale and that’s why the Chinese authorities made the right decision that these persons should not fly,” said Dr Balakrishnan.

“If they did, it would be contravening not only their own regulations but also WHO (World Health Organization) recommendations. So we understand that,” he said, adding that he had been monitoring the situation.

In addition, he expresses that China has been “very responsible and very responsive and is taking all necessary measures to look after our Singaporeans who are still there”.

He also stresses that the novel coronavirus is not just “China’s problem”.

“This is a common threat confronting all of us. This virus does not respect passports or nationalities, race or language, and that’s why we must all cooperate and collaborate to resolve this problem together.

“I commit that we will continue to work closely with the Chinese authorities and any way in which we can help them is also helping all of us collectively.”

And he stated that Singapore will “do its best” to ensure that Singaporeans receive the required treatment in Wuhan or other places in China. All Singaporeans who are in China are also urged to e-register with MFA.


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“Rest assured, all Singaporeans who are overseas. In MFA, we won’t leave anyone behind. We will look out for you,” he said.

Stay Safe

Our thoughts go out to the 140 Singaporeans stranded in Wuhan, China, and we hope that they’ll be able to get through this time of crisis safe and sound. And to the rest of our countrymen, we implore you guys; take care and do not neglect your personal hygiene standards. Avoid touching your face and always wash your hands with bacterial-cleansing soap. If you’re sick, wear a mask so that you won’t spread it to others.

Together, we can overcome this outbreak.

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