Wuhan virus: 5 Government updates you need to know

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said on Monday (Feb 3) that a task force set up to deal with the outbreak was “meeting almost daily” to assess the situation.
Singapore Press Holdings

This story was updated on Friday (Feb 7).

Singapore’s Government has provided an update around national measures to prevent the novel coronavirus (n-Cov) from spreading here.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said in a ministerial statement on Monday (Feb 3) that a new taskforce set up to deal with the outbreak was “meeting almost daily” to assess the situation.

He said: “nCoV is a new virus, and medical experts everywhere are rushing to understand more about how it spreads, how severe it is, and how it can be treated.

“We constantly update our risk assessments based on the latest information and expert advice… that’s why over the past week alone, we’ve had to adjust and update our measures several times.”

Here are 5 key virus updates you need to know:

#1. Singapore has 33 confirmed cases, 147 suspected cases, and 1 recovered patient

The Straits Times

As of Feb 7, the nation’s confirmed Wuhan virus case count is 33. Of these, 17 are PRC nationals, four are Singaporeans who recently returned from Wuhan, and 12 are Singaporeans with no travel history to China.

The Government said it was still testing suspected cases, with 147 cases still pending the outcomes of test results.

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 Government said on Feb 4 that one of the earlier confirmed cases – a 35 year-old male Wuhan resident – had recovered and was discharged after being comprehensively tested negative for the virus.

#2: Yes, we might run out of new mask supplies

The Straits Times

In light of Singaporeans’ “rapid consumption rate” of masks and a “global scramble” to obtain supplies, the minister said that Singapore was seriously considering a potential threat to its supply lines.

He said: “Producers around the world are struggling to keep pace with the demand… we have existing contracts from various producers to replenish our stockpile.

“But in light of the current situation, we have to seriously consider the risks of our supply lines being disrupted.”

Earlier, the Government reminded citizens to use their masks judiciously after 5 million masks released from the national stockpile to retailers, were snapped up in days by anxious Singaporeans.

Read also: Singapore is giving 4 masks to each family after millions of new stocks got wiped clean in days. Here’s how to get yours.

#3: Yes, some Chinese visitors can still gain entry to Singapore

The Straits Times

The Government has suspended the issuing of visas to those with China passports, as the majority of these people were likely in China recently.

However, the minister said that China passport holders who had not been in China in the past 14 days, could still get a short-term visitor pass.

#4: Landlords and neighbours have been asking those on quarantine to go elsewhere – but this could cause the virus to spread locally

The Straits Times

As the virus originated from China, the minister said that some landlords have been stigmatising tenants based on nationality, and evicting tenants currently taking their Leave of Absence (LOA).

A LOA is recommended for those who recently returned from China, with a stricter Quarantine Order applied to those who specifically returned from Hubei.

The minister added that some Singaporeans who discovered that their neighbours were under quarantine, also asked for them to be moved elsewhere.

He warned that moving or evicting individuals suspected of having the virus would endanger the community and make it much harder to contain the virus’ spread locally.

The Government said on its website:“Individuals who are on LOA are not unwell. They are isolating themselves as a precaution.

“Neighbours and landlords are urged to be sympathetic and helpful.”

The Government said there was “no need for landlords to evict these groups”, and that it would ban landlords who did so, from renting their flats to foreign work pass holders in the future.

#5: There’s a WhatsApp service you can get official updates from

The Straits Times

In his statement, the minister said that fake news about the virus had been circulating online, and urged locals to turn to official sources such as the Gov.sg WhatsApp service, which sends out verified updates in the four national languages.

He said over 300,000 people are currently using the service.

The minister also called out viral but unverified messages shared on WhatsApp, such as a recent list of places that people suspected of having the virus had visited.

Wong said: “(The WhatsApp message) completely ignored the fact that any place exposed to a confirmed case will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, under supervision by National Environment Agency (NEA).

“But still, a list of places to avoid was spread, creating fear and a perception that people should avoid these places.”

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