Gan Kim Yong, Health

Govt prepared for any outbreak of bird flu or novel coronavirus

Singapore is vigilant and much better prepared today than it was a decade ago during the Sars scare to handle any possible infectious disease outbreak or cases of the H7N9 strain of bird flu and novel coronavirus, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said on Monday in Parliament.

However as there has been no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission of both infectious disease worldwide, the risk of an outbreak in Singapore will remain low, Mr Gan told MPs.

Nevertheless, the Ministry of Health (MOH) is on the lookout for the possibility of cases in travellers coming to Singapore. MOH has alerted all hospitals and doctors to look out for suspect cases with symptoms such as fever, cough and signs of pneumonia, and a travel history to affected areas for H7N9 and novel coronavirus.

Suspect cases will be isolated and tested for H7N9 or novel coronavirus infection, Mr Gan said.

So far, the MOH has been notified of 11 cases who have been investigated for H7N9, and 24 who were investigated for novel coronavirus. None have been positive.

"With each new infectious disease, it will bring in new experiences, challenges, new threats," Mr Gan said.

He added: "Therefore it is a continuing journey of learning so our healthcare institutions are working to prepare ourselves for the possibility of the arrival of H7N9 or novel coronavirus patients. Singapore institutions are ready and able to manage that".