Singapore — It may just be a matter of time for the Wuhan virus to spread from China to Singapore but this should not be a cause of alarm for Singaporeans, according to Dr Chia Shi-Lu, the Chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Health.
The New Paper (TNP) reports that Dr Chia said on Tuesday (Jan 21) that the Wuhan virus is likely to spread here because many travellers go to and pass through Singapore.
He urged Singaporeans to stay vigilant.
Dr Chia said that “it is only a question of time, given that Singapore is a very open country and is seen as a travel hub … the possibility is very high”.
There has been growing concern about the virus spreading to Singapore, especially as Chinese New Year celebrations will begin at the end of this week.
Dr Chia, who is also an MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, gave the assurance that there are protocols for dealing with outbreaks of this nature, and that people need not panic. He added that Singapore has dealt with Sars and Zika in the past. He said: “We are well prepared and have the appropriate measures in place. This is nothing new, only the disease is new.”
One possible next step that Dr Chia mentioned is for an advisory to be issued by the Government against unnecessary travel to Wuhan.
Since the pathogen that causes the sickness is unknown, prudence is advised, said Dr Chia.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) will be discussing whether or not the outbreak should be deemed a global public health emergency, in the wake of three additional fatalities in Wuhan reported on Jan 21 linked to the mysterious virus.
The pathogen is believed to have come from the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan in China’s Hubei province.
Nearly 300 people have been diagnosed with pneumonia from the Wuhan virus. Six have died. Fifteen medical personnel have been infected by the virus, one of whom is critically ill.
The virus is now suspected to have been detected in people from various countries, such as Australia, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand, as well as in other cities in China.
In Singapore, there are seven cases of suspected Wuhan virus. The most recent was a woman who had travelled to Wuhan and contracted pneumonia.
On Jan 20, it was confirmed that the virus mutates and spreads from human to human.
“From 22 January 2020, we have widened the definition of suspect cases to include persons with:
“(i) Pneumonia and travel history to China within 14 days before onset of symptoms; or
“(ii) Acute respiratory infection who had been to any hospital in China, within 14 days before onset of symptoms.
“These cases will be isolated in hospital as a precautionary measure to prevent transmission.
“From 22 January 2020, temperature screening at Changi Airport will also be expanded to all inbound travellers on flights arriving from China, and suspect cases meeting the expanded definition above will be referred to hospitals for further assessment. Health Advisory Notices will be issued to all travellers arriving at Changi Airport from China, and health advisory posters will also be distributed at land and sea checkpoints.
“MOH has also reminded doctors and healthcare workers to be vigilant, and maintain strict infection control and prevention measures.” -/TISG