S'pore not screening visitors from Thailand yet

TRAVELLERS arriving from Thailand are currently not being screened at Changi Airport for symptoms of the Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers) because the country has only one such case and the situation there is contained, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said yesterday.

But Singapore will continue to monitor developments closely and if necessary, other measures would be introduced, Mr Gan told reporters after attending the annual general meeting of the Chinese Development Assistance Council, which he chairs.

Passengers arriving from Mers-affected countries such as South Korea and those in the Middle East are, however, being screened, he added.

Thailand confirmed its first case of Mers on Thursday - a 75-year-old businessman from Oman.

In South Korea, the outbreak that began last month has infected 166 people and killed 24, as of yesterday. It appears to be levelling off.

Mr Gan forewarned that with today's global travel patterns and transport connections, it is a question of when, and not if, Mers will hit Singapore.

But he assured Singaporeans that hospitals here are prepared and have been practising procedures and protocols to handle Mers patients. "Our hospitals have been reminded repeatedly to make sure they are ready."

Reminders and updates have also been sent to general practitioners as they are usually the first point of contact for patients, he added.

It is important that Singaporeans keep abreast of the latest Mers developments in the region and other parts of the world "so that we are always alert as, sooner or later, Mers will arrive", Mr Gan said.

ziliang@sph.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2015, with the headline 'S'pore not screening visitors from Thailand yet'. Print Edition | Subscribe