Avoid shaking hands to lower risk of getting infected: MOH

A commuter wearing a mask at Pasir Ris MRT station yesterday. The Health Ministry has continued to advise those who are unwell to stay home. If they must go out, they should wear a mask and avoid coming into close and sustained proximity with others.
A commuter wearing a mask at Pasir Ris MRT station yesterday. The Health Ministry has continued to advise those who are unwell to stay home. If they must go out, they should wear a mask and avoid coming into close and sustained proximity with others. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

Avoid shaking hands during this period and adopt alternative greetings instead, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said yesterday following a rise in the Republic's response level to the coronavirus outbreak to code orange.

The Disease Outbreak Response System Condition level was raised following the confirmation of four cases here with no recent travel history to China or links to previous cases, indicating that the disease is severe and spreads easily, but is being contained.

Despite this, however, the health authorities say there is still no need for those who are well to wear a mask.

The director of medical services at MOH, Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, said this is because the main mode by which the virus is transmitted is through droplets.

Therefore, touching contaminated surfaces, and then touching your nose, mouth and eyes, could put you at risk of getting infected.

"This form of transmission is best combated by regular hand washing, and with those who are ill wearing a mask to protect others, seeing a doctor as early as possible, and avoiding going into crowded places.

"But for the general public, wearing a mask is not needed," said Prof Mak.

MOH has said that even if there is community transmission, the most effective method to prevent the spread of the virus is to practise good personal hygiene. This involves regular hand washing with soap and water, and using hand sanitisers when they are unavailable.

The ministry emphasised that people should not touch their faces unnecessarily, especially if their hands are not clean.

 
 

Those who are unwell should stay at home. If they must go out, they should wear a mask and avoid coming into close and sustained proximity with others.

Workers who come cross customers who are unwell should immediately advise customers to leave and see a doctor, said the Health Ministry.

Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force that is tackling the spread of the virus here, said: "I understand that Singaporeans are anxious and concerned, and there is much we do not know about the virus... Life cannot come to a standstill, but we should take all the necessary precautions and carry on."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 08, 2020, with the headline 'Avoid shaking hands to lower risk of getting infected: MOH'. Print Edition | Subscribe