Wuhan virus: Mindef issues advisories for service personnel

Passengers arriving at Changi Airport Terminal 3 from a Hangzhou flight go through a thermal scanner on Jan 22, 2020.
Passengers arriving at Changi Airport Terminal 3 from a Hangzhou flight go through a thermal scanner on Jan 22, 2020.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

In response to the growing outbreak of a mysterious Wuhan virus that has already infected nearly 600 people and killed at least 17 in China, the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) disseminated two medical advisories to its service personnel earlier this month, it told The Straits Times yesterday.

The first advisory, issued on Jan 3, instructed service personnel with flu-like symptoms to seek medical attention and highlight their travel history to their unit medical officers.

This was reiterated in the second advisory disseminated on Tuesday, which also included reminders for personnel to remain vigilant, adopt good personal hygiene measures and regularly check the Ministry of Health website when travelling overseas.

"Both medical advisories are in addition to the current temperature-taking regime in the Singapore Armed Forces to detect soldiers who are unwell before training," Mindef said.

"Soldiers with temperatures above 37.5 deg C will be sent for medical evaluation."

The Wuhan virus is believed to have originated from wild animals sold illegally at the Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market in the capital city of Hubei province.

The symptoms of infection include fever, cough, chest tightness and difficulty breathing.

The virus belongs to the same family of coronavirus as the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) virus which infected more than 8,000 people worldwide and killed almost 800 in 2003.

Singapore had 238 reported cases of Sars, including 33 deaths.


During that epidemic, Mindef had also introduced precautionary measures, including disseminating information on the virus, tips on personal hygiene, travel advisories and procedures for handling suspected Sars cases.

Additionally, personal thermometers were issued to all service personnel, with a twice-daily temperature-checking re-gime implemented.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 24, 2020, with the headline 'Mindef issues advisories for service personnel'. Subscribe