Singapore — The Wuhan novel coronavirus that has affected more than 2,700 people, killed over 80 and spread to several nations will have a negative impact on Singapore’s economy this year, according to Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing.
Mr Chan said this at a press conference held by several ministries on Monday (Jan 27).
He said: “We certainly expect there to be an impact on our economy, business, and consumer confidence this year especially as the situation is expected to persist for some time.”
Mr Chan mentioned the travel, hospitality, and food and beverage sectors as likely to be affected by the outbreak.
Yahoo Singapore reports that Mr Chan also discussed mitigating measures, such as “reducing business costs, alleviating cash flows and retention of workers”, which were used during the Sars outbreak in 2003.
He added that the Government is prepared to work with different sectors. The Singapore Tourism Board, Mr Chan said, is communicating with different companies and trade associations in order to handle the effect the Wuhan virus may have.
He said: “Our priority is to work closely with MOM and NTUC to mitigate the fallout and support our workers affected and preserve their livelihoods.
“For the longer term, we will press on with our industry and market diversifications to strengthen our resilience as an economic system.”
Singapore has confirmed that four patients have tested positive for the Wuhan virus, out of 92 suspected cases. From these cases, 46 have tested negative. Results from the other 42 cases are pending, according to the MOH.
The country reported 0.7 per cent growth in 2019, the lowest in 10 years. The current growth forecast for this year is between 0.5 and 2.5 per cent.
China is the biggest source of tourists to Singapore and has been for years. During the Sars outbreak, Singapore was among the countries most affected.
Mr Ong Ye Kung, the Education Minister, said during the press conference that students and teachers who recently visited China are required to take a two-week absence as a precautionary measure against the spread of the virus. He added that monitoring of students and staff will be done daily starting from Wednesday for early detection of the virus.
And Mr S Iswaran, the Minister for Communications and Information, said that the Government has not only stepped up initiatives to keep the public updated on the outbreak of the virus, it is also acting quickly to prevent fake news from spreading.
He said: “Our aim is to equip Singaporeans with the facts so that you can safely navigate the online terrain, discern truth from falsehood, and know what you can do to lessen the risk to you and your families.”
Information and updates about the Wuhan virus will be disseminated across multiple sources online, such as on the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Communications and Information websites and social media accounts, but also through messaging apps such as WhatsApp.
Mr Iswaran said that more than 56,000 people had signed up for the gov.sg WhatsApp group since Sunday (Jan 26). -/TISG
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