Singapore — A petition to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) seeking a temporary ban on travellers from China has gone viral, reaching more than 35,000 signatures in less than a day since it was posted on the change.org platform.
The petition was posted on Sunday (Jan 26), just as Singapore confirmed that a fourth person had tested positive for the virus that originated in Wuhan, China.
In China, more than 2,700 people have been infected, including 461 in serious condition, and at least 80 have died. There are also reports of people testing positive for the virus in Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, the United States, France, Australia and Malaysia and other countries.
The petition, by Ms Anastasia Abdullah, stated:
“Singapore is a small city, which makes us even more vulnerable to the spread of this epidemic throughout the whole country, and we do not need to wait for severe cases before we take action. In crucial times like this, our health and our loved ones’ health are what should be prioritized the most.
“A simple tap on the screen allows all of us to play our part to stop the Wuhan coronavirus from knocking on our doors and making our lives miserable.”
She added that the petition is meant to call for a temporary ban on Chinese nationals and travellers from entering Singapore.
Those who have signed the petition agree with Ms Abdullah that the safety of Singaporeans is of paramount importance, pointing out that the country has an ageing society that makes it particularly vulnerable to the virus, and that since the country is densely populated, the virus could move quickly.
One woman wrote: “Please protect our families. We have a population of elderly who cannot afford to be infected by the virus. Please stop them from coming in.”
Another wrote: “Singapore’s ageing population is increasing which makes the elderlies more vulnerable. Prevention is better than cure!”
Yet others warned against a repeat of a Sars outbreak.
In Malaysia, more than 350,000 people have signed a similar petition on change.org as of Monday (Jan 27). According to netizen Zaim Yusran Mohd Zaidy, who started the petition: “The government should think more about the health of Malaysians. Don’t wait until there is death among Malaysian people then only the government wants to take some preventive action.”
Other countries have begun to impose travel bans in order to prevent the spread of the Wuhan virus. In the Philippines, not only have all flights to and from Wuhan been suspended, but tourists from the area are being deported over health concerns. Last Saturday (Jan 25), 156 tourists from China were flown back to Wuhan.
In Taiwan, people from the entire Hubei province have been barred entry. Other Chinese travellers are also facing travel restrictions. A two-week ban has been imposed on students.
Hubei residents are banned from entering Hong Kong, according to an announcement from the authorities on Sunday (Jan 26). In North Korea, the government has said that no foreign tourists will be allowed to enter the country until a vaccine to prevent the virus has been developed. -/TISG