Ministerial statements on Wuhan virus outbreak to be delivered in Parliament on Monday

Visitors seen wearing face masks at Jewel Changi Airport on 30 January, 2020. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman/Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — The two ministers heading the Multi-Ministry Taskforce on the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak will deliver their ministerial statements in Parliament on Monday (3 February). 

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong and Health Minister Gan Kim Yong will update the House on the multi-prong efforts across government ministries and other agencies to combat the outbreak.

Seven Members of Parliament have also filed questions for Gan to answer concerning the outbreak and the country’s efforts to deal with the outbreak.

On Thursday, the Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed three more cases of the Wuhan coronavirus in Singapore, bringing the total tally in the Republic to 13.

All 13 confirmed cases are Chinese nationals, of whom at least 11 are residents of Wuhan, where the virus originated.

Apart from the 13 confirmed cases, 164 of the suspect cases have tested negative for the coronavirus as of 12pm on Thursday, while test results for the remaining 49 cases are pending.

On Tuesday, the Singapore authorities announced a series of travel curbs amid the outbreak.

There is a travel ban in place for new visitors with recent travel history to Hubei within the last 14 days, since Wednesday. Such individuals will not be allowed to enter or transit through Singapore.

This also applies to those with Chinese passports issued in Hubei. For such travellers, there is a suspension on issuance of all new visas, previously-issued short-term and multiple-visit visas, and visa-free transit facilities. The ban applies to land, sea and air travel.

Returning Singaporeans, permanent residents and long-term pass holders with travel history to Hubei in the last 14 days will be quarantined, as will returning permanent residents and long-term pass holders with Chinese passports issued in Hubei.

The World Health Organization declared a global emergency over the novel coronavirus on early Thursday (GMT time), after it initially downplayed the threat from the disease.

It has spread to 22 territories beyond mainland China, sickening almost 10,000 people – surpassing the figures for the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak – and claiming 213 lives.

The new strain belongs to the same family of coronaviruses as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed nearly 800 people globally during a 2002-2003 outbreak and also started in China.

It likely originated from Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Market, where live animals or products – such as foxes, wolf puppies, giant salamanders, snakes, porcupines, and camel meat – are sold.

Patients suffering from the new strain may exhibit fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness – such as coughing or difficulty in breathing –, as well as pneumonia-like symptoms like a runny nose, sore throat, and headache.

However, some who have died from it have not displayed symptoms of fever according to details released by China’s National Health Commission, potentially complicating global efforts to check for infected travellers as they arrive at airports and other travel hubs.

This means that temperature screening, the most common measure being used at transport links and airports to check travellers, may not identify some infected people.


Related stories

Wuhan virus: 3 more confirmed cases in Singapore, total at 13

Wuhan virus: The Singaporeans who chose to remain in Hubei

Wuhan virus: Singapore to bar new visitors with travel history to Hubei in last 14 days