SINGAPORE — Two online petitions calling for a ban on travellers from China have been making the rounds amid the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus that has claimed 106 lives so far.
Both petitions, started two days ago on website Change.org, urge the Singapore government to impose the ban in order to stop the virus from spreading here.
On Tuesday (28 January), Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) announced two more confirmed cases of the virus, bring the total to seven - all the cases were Chinese nationals from Wuhan.
One petition, which has gained more than 106,000 signatures as of Tuesday evening, stated, “Singapore is a small city, which makes us even more vulnerable to the spread of this epidemic throughout the whole country, and we do not need to wait for severe cases before we take action.”
“In crucial times like this, our health and our loved ones' health are what should be prioritised the most,” said the petition, which was addressed to the Ministry of Health, Immigration & Checkpoints Authority of Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and others.
The other petition, which has gained more than 15,000 signatures so far, urged the government to ban travellers from “any parts of China” until an “anti-vaccine or cure is found”.
“It is imperative that the government be steadfast with protecting its people and assets before it is too late. The current preventive measures (taking temperature) are insufficient as not everyone infected with the coronavirus displays signs of fever,” it stated.
The petition is addressed to four ministers, including PM Lee, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat and Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.
MOH also introduced several new travel curbs on Tuesday in response to the outbreak. All new visitors with recent travel history to Hubei within the last 14 days will not be allowed to enter or transit through Singapore from Wednesday 12 noon onwards. The travel ban extends to those with Chinese passports issued in Hubei.
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.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said that he was aware of such a petition.
But Wong, who co-chairs the Multi-Ministry Taskforce on Wuhan Coronavirus, said, “The government will do everything we can to protect Singapore and Singaporeans, but this does not mean overreacting or turning xenophobic.”