COVID-19: WHO praises Singapore’s ‘tremendous rigor’ in handling outbreak

Nurul Azliah

A Singaporean churchgoer, migrant Malaysian worker and hospital administrator were among four new reported coronavirus cases in Singapore announced as a top global health officials praised the city-state’s response to the outbreak.

The 57-year-old member of the Grace Assembly of God became the latest member of the megachurch to take ill, alongside the 35-year-old worker who was in close contact with the 72nd patient and a Singaporean hospital admin who came into contact with an infected churchgoer.

While Singapore has the most known terrestrial cases outside China, its diligent approach was praised by WHO Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“#Singapore is leaving no stone unturned, testing every case of influenza-like illness and pneumonia. So far they have not found evidence of #COVID19 community transmission,” WHO Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a tweet late last night. 

Ghebreyesus earlier said that Singapore was handling “imported cases with tremendous rigor” after speaking with Health Minister Gan Kim Yong. The island has discovered 81 infections since the outbreak reached its shores last month.

COVID-19: Here’s every coronavirus infection in Singapore on a map

Regionally, a second coronavirus patient died in Hong Kong and new infections hit a one-day high in South Korea despite slowing in China. The virus has now killed at least 2,000 people in China, where more than 70,000 had been infected as of noon Wednesday. 

An elderly man with underlying illness who was among Hong Kong’s 62 confirmed patients died Wednesday morning. In South Korea, 15 new cases, mostly in the city of Daegu and its surrounding province, brought the country’s total number of cases today to 46. Eleven of the newly infected were reportedly linked to a previously confirmed case involving a 61-year-old woman. 

Passengers who had been quarantined aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship began disembarking today. About 500 were expected to leave the ship today in a process expected to continue through Friday, The Japan Times reported. At least 542 people who tested positive for the virus had already been taken to Japanese hospitals for treatment.

The ship was placed under two-week quarantine in Yokohama on Feb. 3 after a previous passenger contracted COVID-19.

More updates from around the region:

Hong Kong

  • Hong Kong today reported its second death due to the virus. The 70-year-old man with underlying illness became one of the city’s 62 confirmed cases last week.
  • Another person was arrested on suspicion of stealing toilet paper. The latest suspect was an unemployed man arrested during a Tuesday night raid on a guesthouse on Sai Yee Street.


  • Malaysia yesterday released information of all of its COVID-19 infections, including nine who are already discharged.
  • Among those deemed to have recovered were Malaysia’s first six patients, all Chinese nationals.
  • The World Health Organization has praised Malaysia’s transparency in handling the disease outbreak. 

“We (WHO and the public) can see all the information, and the information is immediately out on social media and the Health Ministry website, so I think they are doing very well,” representative Lo Ying-Ru told reporters. 

  • Malaysians quarantined after they were airlifted from virus epicenter Wuhan, China, were allowed home yesterday.


  • Phuket has extended screenings of travelers arriving at its airport to arrivals from Cambodia, where passengers of the Westerdam cruise ship disembarked.


  • Three of 78 Indonesian crew members quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise liner in Japan have tested positive for COVID-19, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said yesterday. Two were taken to a hospital in Chiba prefecture while the third is at a separate medical facility.


  • Filipinos living in Hong Kong and Macao were allowed home after the authorities exempted them from a travel ban. 
  • Eight more Filipinos have been infected by the virus aboard cruise ship Diamond Princess, bringing up the total number of Filipinos testing positive for COVID-19 on the boat to 35. The crew members were taken to Japanese hospitals for treatment. 
  • The Philippine health department is still looking for more quarantine space to house all 538 Filipinos from the cruise ship

3 hotels that hosted Chinese coronavirus patient cleared of infections: official
Filipina domestic worker becomes Hong Kong’s 61st confirmed case of COVID-19
3 Indonesian crew members on Diamond Princess cruise ship tested positive for coronavirus: foreign minister

This article, COVID-19: WHO praises Singapore’s ‘tremendous rigor’ in handling outbreak, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!