Parliament: 62 suspected cases of Mers investigated in Singapore, all tested negative

A total of 62 suspected cases of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (Mers) have been investigated in Singapore, with all testing negative for the virus.
A total of 62 suspected cases of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (Mers) have been investigated in Singapore, with all testing negative for the virus.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - A total of 62 suspected cases of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (Mers) have been investigated in Singapore, with all testing negative for the virus.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, responding to questions in Parliament, said an Inter-Ministerial Committee had been formed since late 2014 to oversee the Government's preparedness against dangerous infectious diseases such as Mers and Ebola.

He said the Ministry of Health (MOH) has been monitoring the global Mers situation since the disease emerged in 2012.

He added that various measures have been put in place to detect imported Mers cases, and to contain any possible transmission in Singapore.

For instance, the airport had implemented temperature-screening since last May, to screen passengers arriving on direct flights from the Middle East. This was extended to flights from South Korea last month.

"However, it is a matter of time that the contagion will reach our shores. Therefore, beyond the preventive measures that I mentioned, the government agencies have contingency response plans in place should there be an imported case," said Mr Gan.

Mers has killed 36 people in South Korea since the outbreak began on May 20, with hundreds currently still in quarantine to control the spread of the potentially deadly virus.

Elaborating on the preventive measures put in place, Mr Gan said MOH has set up a dedicated webpage on Mers to keep Singaporeans informed about new developments. Travel advisories are also issued to those heading to places where there is active transmission of Mers.

Should a confirmed case emerge, added Mr Gan, the patient will be treated in "negative-pressure isolation rooms". Healthcare workers will also wear personal protective equipment while caring for these patients.

He said that an exercise was conducted recently at the Changi Airport to simulate the transfer of a suspected Ebola patient to to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, in a portable medical isolation unit.

Mr Gan urged the public to play their part by keeping up to date with the Government's advisories and exercising personal responsibility and hygiene.

"Our first line of defence is on prevention and detection, through public education, border screening, and vigilance within the medical community," he said.