Singapore—Law and Home Affairs minister K Shanmugam spoke to the press at Jewel Changi Airport on Sunday (Feb 2), fielding questions about the Singapore Government’s response to the current Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, which has affected 14,677 individuals and caused 305 deaths.
The number of countries and territories that have seen cases positive for the Wuhan coronavirus has reached 27. Several governments have imposed a ban on travellers who have recently come from China. Wuhan, a city in the Hubei province in central China where the virus originated, has been in lockdown since January 23.
On Friday (Jan 31), Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong announced that new travellers from any country who have recently been to China are temporarily disallowed from entering Singapore, whether as tourists or for transit.
Mr Shanmugam was asked by a member of the press concerning the travel ban in the light of a post on the Facebook page of 中国驻新加坡大使馆 Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Singapore that said, “Just hours after the WHO put forward its professional advice, certain country (sic) announced a blanket travel ban against China. Such an act to take advantage of other people’s difficulties is the last thing we need in state-to-state relations. China trusts that Pakistan and the rest of the international community will fully respect the important opinions of the WHO and continue to support China in containing the outbreak.”
On 31 January, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had a phone call with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah…
The World Health Organization (WHO) has deemed that travel or trade restrictions against China are unnecessary.
Mr Shanmugam echoed the words of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, “We are confident that China will be able to deal decisively with this virus. Its resources are quite large. We should be very supportive of China, and help China. It’s the right thing to do.”
He then said, “From our own perspective, we introduced the travel restrictions in stages, based on medical evidence.
Each country is in a different situation. A bigger country is in a situation different from a smaller country. If you look at Singapore, 760 square kilometers, how long does it take to go from Tuas to Changi…? And it’s very dense in population. So spread can be very fast if we are not careful. And this virus, people who are affected by it may be asymptomatic for 14 days.
The spread in Singapore, with such intense density, can be quite substantial. I’m sure the Chinese government doesn’t want it. We don’t want it.
Our primary duty is to make sure Singaporeans are safe. And our quarantine facilities are limited, and our medical facilities can be easily stretched.
That’s why I say the situation Singapore is in is very different from other countries which are larger.
We have to look at our situation, our size, our resources, and based on that, based on the science, make the decision.
The restriction are not, strictly speaking, nationality-based, it is strictly speaking, geographical in the sense of if you’ve been in China, whoever you are, then the restrictions kick in.”
[ Confidence in China’s efforts against the coronavirus ]I was asked some questions about the travel restrictions on persons who have been to China in the past 14 days and also comments by the Chinese Embassy.I made the following points:1) We have every confidence that China will be able to deal with this situation decisively. It has the ability to bring its entire national resources and willpower, to focus and win the battle.2) It is important that all of us support China in its efforts for 2 reasons:a. It is the right thing to do in the spirit of humanityb. It is in our interest that China succeeds in its fight against this virusEnclosed is a video of my answer to the questions.
Posted by K Shanmugam Sc on Sunday, February 2, 2020
He went on to say that out of the people that were not given admission into Singapore on Saturday (Feb 1) only one-third had been from China, the rest were of other nationalities, including Americans, Indians, and others.
There are currently 18 cases of people positive for the Wuhan coronavirus in Singapore, with no new cases reported on Sunday, February 2 There are 240 people who have tested negative for the virus, and 43 who are still awaiting test results. -/TISG
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