2019 Novel Coronavirus: Singapore preparing defences to reduce risk of spread

03 Feb 2020 2 min read


Health Minister Gan Kim Yong highlighted three scenarios Singapore is preparing itself to deal with the virus that has affected some 17,000 people globally.

Scenario 1: Community spread in other countries and Chinese cities beyond Wuhan

Singapore will roll out additional measures to prevent importation and to contain the virus.

There is currently a total of 18 cases, of which 16 are Chinese nationals from Wuhan while two others are Singaporeans who were in Wuhan. Some of the present measures include restricting travellers coming from Wuhan or have visited China within the past 14 days. Residents and long-term pass holders who are returning from China are expected to take the mandatory 14 days Leave of Absence (LOA).

Scenario 2: Presence of community spread in Singapore

Mr Gan said that the key to managing the spread is the ability to quickly detect the virus and limit further spread. He calls for collective social responsibility from all Singaporeans.

If the community spread becomes extensive, he added, the Government will need to consider measures to reduce human-to-human interactions, such as cancelling mass gatherings, suspending schools, paring down non-essential care services and introducing further infection control and monitoring measures, to slow the spread.

Scenario 3: The virus could mutate to become more infectious and spread widely, resulting in a pandemic

Mr Gan said that the Government will have to assess what best to do, depending on how the virus mutates.

In the past two weeks, Singapore has added 100 more isolation beds and increased its testing capacity to be able to confirm more quickly of suspected cases.

524 people under quarantine in Singapore

Those who are considered high-risk are placed under quarantine either at home or at government quarantine facilities. Minister of National Development Lawrence Wong, who also co-chairs the Multi-Ministry Taskforce on Novel Coronavirus, said that the quarantined are expected to report their health status at least three times a day and spot checks are conducted to ensure they do not leave the premises.

Individuals found to be on lower-risks are on 14-day Leave of Absence, where they are to remain home as much as possible and keep a record of who they come into contact with.

Mr Wong explained that, “Being able to detect and isolate infected patients and their close contacts is Singapore’s second line of defence against the virus.”

Photo credit: Minister Lawrence Wong’s Facebook