Singapore Confirms First Case Of Novel Coronavirus
Following the confirmation of the first Singapore coronavirus case on Thursday (23 Jan), the MOH urges travellers and members of the public to adopt safety precautions.
A Chinese national from Wuhan who arrived in Singapore with his family on Monday, 20 January 2020 is Singapore’s first confirmed case of novel coronavirus, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced in a press release on Thursday (23 Jan).
First confirmed Singapore coronavirus case
The 66-year-old man is currently warded in an isolation room at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and his condition is stable, the health agency said.
MOH has also been notified today of a suspect case, who has tested preliminarily positive for the novel coronavirus—a 53-year-old female Chinese national from Wuhan.
The result of the confirmatory test is pending, and her condition is stable.
Both cases were immediately isolated upon presenting to the respective hospitals with clinical symptoms.
The first Singapore coronavirus case is a man who is a resident of Wuhan
The patient, and his nine other companions, arrived in Singapore from Guangzhou via a China Southern flight at 10.40 pm on Monday.
He reported that he had developed a sore throat but did not have fever during the flight to Singapore. However, he subsequently developed fever and cough on Tuesday (21 Jan).
He was admitted and isolated at SGH on Wednesday (22 Jan) for further assessment, in view of his clinical symptoms and recent travel history from Wuhan—the ground zero of the virus outbreak that has so far killed 17 people in China, and has spread to Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia and the United States.
The patient was diagnosed to have pneumonia upon admission and has been isolated since.
According to MOH, prior to hospital admission, the patient stayed at Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa in Sentosa and indicated that he had kept to the vicinity of the hotel.
One of his travelling companions, a 37-year-old male Chinese national also from Wuhan, has also been warded as a suspect case.
“As a precautionary measure, [all close contacts] will be quarantined for 14 days from their last exposure to the patient. Those who develop symptoms will be brought to [the] hospital in a dedicated ambulance for further assessment. In addition, all other identified contacts who have a low risk of being infected will be under active surveillance and will be contacted daily to monitor their health status,” the MOH said.
Hospitals are geared up: MOH
“Our public hospitals are geared up to handle the situation, and have put in place precautionary measures to screen and manage suspect and confirmed cases,” said MOH. It also stated that it has reminded doctors and healthcare workers to be “highly vigilant, and maintain strict infection control and prevention measures.”
With the Chinese New Year holiday—dubbed as the world’s largest human migration—coming up, Singapore authorities expect a high volume of international travel to Singapore, and “more suspect cases and imported cases.”
Meanwhile, the government urges the public to remain calm and vigilant, and to adopt good personal hygiene practices.
Wuhan virus cases around the world
The virus has affected hundreds of people in China and has spread to at least, eight other countries: Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, and the United States.
As anxiety about the virus continues to grow, governments around the world have taken precautions to isolate anyone displaying the symptoms.
In his Chinese New Year message on Friday (Jan 24), Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the government is “well prepared,” and has been gearing up for such a situation ever since the SARS outbreak in 2003.
Speaking from Davos, where he was attending the World Economic Forum, Mr Lee said he has been closely tracking Singapore’s preparations against the new coronavirus from Wuhan.
“MOH has now activated plans to counter the spread of the virus, which so far does not appear to be as deadly as SARs was.
He also urged Singaporeans to “be calm but watchful” as the government implement measures to keep everybody safe and healthy.
Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong on Thursday (23 Jan) said Singapore will expand its screening for the virus to its land and sea checkpoints. Temperature screening at Changi Airport was expanded on Wednesday to include all travellers on flights arriving from China, while travellers arriving at land and sea checkpoints such as at Woodlands, Tuas and other ferry terminals will also have to undergo temperature screening beginning Friday (24 Jan).
How to protect yourself and your family from the virus
Following the confirmation of the first Singapore coronavirus case on Thursday (24 Jan), the MOH urges travellers and members of the public to adopt the following precautions at all times:
- Avoid contact with live animals including poultry and birds, and consumption of raw and undercooked meats;
- Avoid crowded places and close contact with people who are unwell or showing symptoms of illness;
- Observe good personal hygiene;
- Practise frequent hand washing with soap (e.g. before handling food or eating, after going to the toilet, or when hands are dirtied by respiratory secretions after coughing or sneezing);
- Wear a mask if you have respiratory symptoms such as a cough or shortness of breath
- Cover your mouth with a tissue paper when coughing or sneezing, and dispose soiled tissue paper in the rubbish bin immediately; and
- Seek medical attention promptly if you are feeling unwell.