Two more confirmed cases of Wuhan virus in Singapore; new visitors who have recently been to Hubei barred from Jan 29

Two more confirmed cases of Wuhan virus in Singapore; new visitors who have recently been to Hubei barred from Jan 29
Two more confirmed cases of Wuhan virus in Singapore; new visitors who have recently been to Hubei barred from Jan 29

Hello and welcome to the details of Two more confirmed cases of Wuhan virus in Singapore; new visitors who have recently been to Hubei barred from Jan 29 and now with the details

Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - The entry prohibition will apply to all land, sea and air checkpoints and those who are turned away will have to make their own travel arrangements with airlines or other forms of transportation to exit Singapore. — TODAY pic

SINGAPORE, Jan 28 — Visitors who have been in Hubei over the last 14 days or have passports issued in Hubei will be barred from entering or transiting in Singapore from noon tomorrow.

The latest measures announced by the Health Ministry (MOH) today come in the wake of two new confirmed cases here.

This brings the total number of cases here to seven with the latest three cases discovered in the last 24 hours.

The government said that airlines would be informed about the new rules today and they will in turn notify passengers.

The entry prohibition will apply to all land, sea and air checkpoints and those who are turned away will have to make their own travel arrangements with airlines or other forms of transportation to exit Singapore.

MOH said that while there has been no evidence of community spread in Singapore right now, given that the trend of infection among the population of Chinese nationals from Hubei in Singapore is accelerating, it would put in place enhanced measures.

Besides barring visitors from Hubei from Wednesday, Chinese nationals with passports issued in Hubei will, with immediate effect, no longer be issued new visas. 

Short-term visas and multiple-visit visas that were previously issued to these individuals will also be suspended, as will visa-free transit facilities for these individuals.

Announcing the measures at the Health Ministry’s headquarters on Tuesday, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs a government taskforce dealing with the virus, said that in the last 24 hours, there has been an accelerating trend of the infection among Chinese nationals from Hubei. 

“Within Singapore itself, we have had a near doubling of imported cases overnight,” he said, adding that the infection seen in other parts of China also originate from Hubei, the province where Wuhan the epicentre of the outbreak is. 

“Given the heightened risk, we don’t want to leave anything to chance.”

The government taskforce met on Tuesday morning and decided to beef up the city-state’s response to the virus, said Wong. 

Measures not ‘knee-jerk’

Wong gave the assurance that the latest measures were not “knee-jerk” but were “considered moves”.

“We decided that there is sufficient evidence of... a real risk of this creating community spread of the virus within Singapore, and therefore, we have to take action.”

Wong had said on Monday that a total ban on travellers from China over the virus was unnecessary at the moment, as he cautioned against overreaction and xenophobia. 

But he warned today that if the situation worsens beyond Hubei, the Singapore Government would have to update its measures to cover other Chinese cities and provinces. 

Authorities here said travellers would have to declare their recent travels, so that officials can determine if they have been in Hubei in the last 14 days. Right now, immigration systems allow Singapore’s authorities to see only the last port a traveller called at.

While Wong acknowledged that there could be irresponsible travellers who may not declare their recent travels to Hubei, he said multiple checks were in place.

Medical teams are deployed at aerobridges and thermal scanners are stationed at checkpoints to pick up passengers who are unwell. Officers from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority can also query travellers at checkpoints, for example, he said. 

Other measures

Other enhanced measures that will be put in place:

1. Singaporeans, permanent residents (PRs) or those with long-term passes such as work passes, who have travelled to Hubei within the last 14 days will be quarantined.

2. Returning PRs and long-term pass holders with Chinese passports issued in Hubei will also be quarantined.

3. Those already in Singapore who have travelled to Hubei recently or Chinese nationals with Hubei-issued passports will be quarantined if they are assessed to be of higher risk. Risk factors include contact with a person who has contracted the Wuhan virus or recent visits to hospitals in China.

MOH reminded the public that quarantine orders have legal force with severe penalties for non-compliance. 

Under the Infectious Diseases Act, anyone who violates a quarantine order for the first time could be fined up to S$10,000 (RM30,073), jailed for up to six months, or both.

Today, MOH also gave details of the two latest cases. 

The sixth confirmed case is a 56-year-old Chinese national from Wuhan who arrived in Singapore on January 19 and was staying with his family in their home at Pasir Ris Grove. 

He developed a cough on January 25 and went to Changi General Hospital the next day.

Meanwhile, the seventh case, a 35-year-old Chinese national from Wuhan arrived in Singapore on January 23 and stayed at Marina Bay Sands. 

He developed symptoms the next day and went to Raffles Hospital on his own. 

He was transferred to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases by a private ambulance that day. 

Both individuals tested positive for the novel coronavirus infection at 11pm yesterday. 

MOH said that all seven patients are in stable condition. 

As the city-state hardens its defences against the virus, Wong said that individuals still formed the most important layer of defence.

“(Whether a) visitor or resident in Singapore, (we) have to be socially responsible. And anyone who shows symptoms, step forward immediately, go and see a doctor quickly, wear a mask if you are ill.

“We have a system in place to detect, isolate and contain the situation All Singaporeans have to work at containing the spread of the virus and minimise the risk of (it) spreading within our community,” he said. — TODAY

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