Coronavirus: WHO praises Singapore's containment of Covid-19 outbreak

Passengers arriving at the Singapore Cruise Centre being screened by thermal scanners on March 5, 2020. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE - World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has praised Singapore's "all-government approach" in the containment of Covid-19.

He also said the threat of a pandemic has become very real, and urged countries around the world to "not give up" in the fight against the coronavirus disease.

There are many examples of countries demonstrating that an all-of-society, all-of-government approach works, he said.

"China, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United States of America and many others have activated emergency measures," he said.

"Singapore is a good example of an all-of-government approach - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's regular videos are helping to explain the risks and reassure people."

Dr Tedros said this on Tuesday (March 10) in his opening remarks at a daily press briefing on Covid-19 held at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

It is not the first time he has praised Singapore's response to the coronavirus outbreak.

In mid-February, he said that the WHO was very impressed with the efforts Singapore was making to find every case, follow up with contacts and stop transmission.

Dr Tedros said then that other countries should follow Singapore's example of handling the outbreak.

Singapore has 160 cases, of which 93 have been discharged and 10 are in the intensive care unit. There have been no deaths.

At the briefing on Tuesday, Dr Tedros repeated the call for countries around the world to take "early and aggressive action" to contain the outbreak.

"It is not about containment or mitigation, which is a false dichotomy. It is about both, he said.

"Countries that continue finding and testing cases, and tracing their contacts not only protect their own people. They can also affect what happens in other countries."

For the moment, only a handful of countries have signs of sustained community transmission. Most countries still have sporadic cases or defined clusters.

"As long as that's the case, those countries have the opportunity to break the chains of transmission, prevent community transmission and reduce the burden on their health systems," he said.

Dr Tedros said that four countries account for 93 per cent of Covid-19 cases, and of the four, China is bringing its epidemic under control, and there is now a decline in new cases being reported from South Korea.

A thermal scanner at the arrival area of Changi Airport Terminal 3 on Feb 14, 2020.

"Both these countries demonstrate that it is never too late to turn back the tide on this virus," he said.

China has 80,904 cases, of which more than 70 per cent have recovered, and South Korea now has 7,382 cases.

The other two countries with the most cases are Italy with 7,375 cases and Iran, which has 6,566 cases.

"The rule of the game is never give up," said Dr Tedros.

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