The speed with which Singaporeans rushed out to buy masks and hand-disinfectants attests to the urgency they felt in protecting themselves and their families from the coronavirus that started in Wuhan. This fear is natural in the face of spreading infectious diseases, although much of the concern was misplaced. Masks are not needed by those who are not unwell but by those who are sick, so as to protect others from infection through coughing or sneezing. The authorities stepped in to distribute masks to households.
This was a commendable measure which helped to stem fears. Even as the Government responds to the spread of the virus by protecting the country's borders from the entry of those who could spread the disease, Singaporeans need to play an essential role in minimising the risks of spread locally. Washing hands with soap and water and observing other forms of personal hygiene are obvious means. More can be done. An example is the four cases announced here on Wednesday which included a father and son, a Singaporean man and his baby boy. His wife and their maid were earlier confirmed to be infected. The other cases were the Singaporean husband of an infected tour guide, and a tourist from China.
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