Changi Airport resumes temperature screening amid Chinese pneumonia scare

A mystery pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan, China, has prompted Singaporean authorities to scan body temperatures of passengers arriving from the Chinese city by air starting today.

A total of 27 cases are reportedly being investigated in China after social media rumors suggested that the virus could be linked to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS. Among those infected, seven are in critical condition while the rest have stabilized, Reuters reported. 

The Ministry of Health (MOH) is aware of the cluster of severe pneumonia cases in Wuhan city, Hubei Province, China and is monitoring the situation closely,”  Singapore’s health ministry wrote in a statement last night. The ministry has not been notified of any cases as of yesterday.

“As a precautionary measure, MOH has alerted all medical practitioners to be vigilant to look out for suspected cases with pneumonia who have recently returned from Wuhan,” it added.

Temperature screenings will begin this evening, the ministry said. Those showing signs of fever, acute respiratory illness or pneumonia who have traveled to Wuhan within 14 days will be isolated as a precautionary measure and referred to hospitals for further medical assessment. 

The health ministry also urged travelers to Wuhan to monitor their health closely and disclose their travel history to doctors. 

It also advised the general public to take measures such as practicing good hygiene, avoiding contact with live animals and not consuming uncooked food. 

The Chinese government has yet to determine the cause of the disease outbreak and cannot confirm that it is SARS, Reuters said, citing the official People’s Daily newspaper. 

“Other severe pneumonia is more likely,” an unnamed health official was quoted as saying. 

Some of those who came down with the mysterious pneumonia were apparently working at a local seafood market, according to China Daily. 

Medical workers were spotted spraying sanitizer in the market this week, it added. The market remains open.

Photo purportedly showing medical workers at the seafood market linked to Wuhan’s pneumonia outbreak. Photo: 民间趣事/Weibo

SARS hit Singapore in 2003 after a woman who had been infected while traveling abroad returned to the city-state, setting off a series of transmissions. The virus spread to more than 200 people, 33 of whom died. 

Among the measures taken at the time were temperature checks at the airport and in schools. 

More news from the Little Red Dot at Coconuts.co/Singapore

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