Dorscon Orange: Singapore ups alert after more cases with no known links surface

Visitors having their temperature checked before entering the Chingay Parade at the F1 Pit Building on Jan 31, 2020. Singapore moved its disease outbreak response up a level to Orange on Feb 7 as the coronavirus spread further within the country.
The Straits Times

Singapore moved its disease outbreak response up a level to Orange on Friday (Feb 7) as the coronavirus spread further within the country, with three new cases announced of unknown origin, including a junior college teacher

To date, four people here have been infected with the virus who have no known links to previous cases or travel history to China.

Contact tracing for Case 29 (announced on 6 February) so far has not established a link to previous cases or travel…

Posted by Ministry of Health, Singapore on Friday, 7 February 2020

The emphasis will now be on “aggressively trying to stop or limit further spread”, according to the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) pandemic readiness and preparedness plan. Code Orange is one step below Red, which signifies an out-of-control pandemic.

“We have been preparing for this scenario and we are ready to manage this situation,” said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong at a press conference. “The key is quick detection and managing the local spread.”

Read also: Wuhan virus: 5 Government updates you need to know

The heightened response comes as the ministry announced three new cases on Friday – all are Singaporeans not linked to any earlier clusters, and who had not been to China recently.

These include:

– A 53-year-old man who was in Malaysia on three separate days in January;

– A 42-year-old woman, a teacher at Victoria Junior College;

– A 39-year-old woman who was in Malaysia from Jan 22 to Jan 29.

The three new cases were discovered because hospitals here have started testing all pneumonia patients for the virus, MOH said.

The total number of people infected here has grown to 33.

Two of the patients have been discharged, but two are now in critical condition and in the intensive care unit, said MOH on Friday.

Read also: Everything you need to know about the coronavirus outbreak in 30 seconds

With Code Orange, new precautionary measures will be in place to minimise the risk of further virus transmission to the community.

These include schools cancelling all inter-school events and external activities till the end of the March holidays; companies implementing business contingency plans; limiting visits to pre-schools and eldercare services; and temperature screening in hospitals.

The Government has been ramping up defensive measures since January, and has put in place various measures, including quarantine for close contacts of those found with the disease, as well as more stringent screening measures at hospitals.

Mr Gan pointed out that many of the measures in Orange are already in place, and are being stepped up.

Read also: The Wuhan coronavirus seems to have a low fatality rate, and most patients make full recoveries. Experts reveal why it’s causing panic anyway.

During Friday’s press conference National Development Minister Lawrence Wong pointed out that the mortality rate of the disease is much lower outside of Hubei.

While it is 2 per cent in Hubei, the epicentre of the disease, it is 0.2 per cent elsewhere, he noted.

“We are still doing our best to prevent broader community spread in Singapore,” said Mr Wong, co-chair of the multi-ministry task force tackling the outbreak.

Singapore moved to Code Orange during the H1N1 influenza outbreak in 2009.

The coding system was set up after the 2003 Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak.

Read also: ‘Stop flights’: People worldwide are cancelling trips to Singapore, after news that the coronavirus has spread to locals