SINGAPORE — Ride-hailing company Grab announced on Saturday (8 February) that its GrabShare services will be unavailable here from Sunday “until further notice”, amid an increase in the novel coronavirus cases in the Republic.
Users of the Grab app received a push notification of the announcement at around 11pm, along with a list of good hygiene practices. The statement was also published on its website.
“Due to the latest novel coronavirus developments, GrabShare services will be temporarily unavailable from 9 February (Sunday) 1am until further notice,” said the ride-hailing company.
It added that JustGrab and other ride services will still be available during this period.
“We appreciate your understanding while we work closely with the relevant authorities to monitor the situation,” it said.
In response to media queries, a Grab spokesperson said that driver- or delivery-partners who are serving their quarantine order or Leave of Absence will also be temporarily suspended from its platform.
“We understand that such unintended time off from work puts a huge financial burden on our partners. To help offset some of their income loss, we provide support packages comprising claimable one-time allowance, rental waivers and more,” said the spokesperson.
“The health and safety of our partners and users remain our top priority. We have been enhancing our precautionary measures since last month and are also prepared for scenarios based on the Dorscon system.”
Yahoo News Singapore has reached out to ride-hailing competitors GoJek, Tada and Ryde for comments on how the situation would affect their operations.
Grab’s announcement was made minutes before the Ministry of Health confirmed an additional seven cases of the novel coronavirus – the highest reported in a single day to date – bringing the total in Singapore to 40.
Among the new cases are a taxi driver and a private hire car driver, both with no recent travel history to China or links to previously confirmed cases here. A total of two private hire care drivers have been confirmed to be infected.
To date, the Republic has the second-highest number of cases outside mainland China, behind Japan’s 89.
On Friday, local authorities raised the disease outbreak response level to “orange” from “yellow”.
Under the “orange” level of the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (Dorscon), a disease is considered to be severe and spreads easily from person to person, but it has not spread widely in Singapore and is contained.
It is the second time Singapore has activated this level – the first was during the 2009 swine flu epidemic. The coding system was set up after the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic in 2003.
During the 2003 outbreak, the country was also at a similar alert level.
The novel strain belongs to the same family of coronaviruses as SARS, which killed nearly 800 people globally during a 2002-2003 outbreak. It had also started in China.
The coronavirus – which has been declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization – has spread to 27 territories beyond mainland China, sickening over 34,000 people worldwide.
China’s death toll from the epidemic soared to over 720 on Saturday, inching close to the total fatalities globally from the SARS outbreak.
Among them is a US citizen whose death in the city of Wuhan, where the virus originated, was confirmed by the US embassy on the same day.
Two territories, Hong Kong and the Philippines, have each reported the death of a patient from the virus.
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