Travellers arriving from Wuhan in China will undergo temperature screening at Changi Airport from this evening, in light of a pneumonia outbreak in the Chinese region.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) said yesterday evening it told doctors to look out for suspected cases of people who had returned recently from the area. As a precaution, patients with fever and acute respiratory illness or pneumonia, who had travelled to Wuhan at least 14 days before the onset of their symptoms, will be isolated to prevent transmission, it added.
Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported on Tuesday that China was investigating an outbreak of atypical pneumonia that is suspected of being linked to severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars), the flu-like virus that killed 774 people worldwide - including 33 in Singapore - during a 2003 outbreak.
The South China Morning Post newspaper said at least 27 infections had been reported as of Tuesday, most of whom were stallholders at a seafood market. It said that Hong Kong was on the alert, with border screenings being set up.
AFP had also quoted Wuhan's health commission as saying that seven of the patients were in a critical condition, while the others were stable and two would be discharged soon. The commission said that initial lab tests found no apparent human-to-human transmission and that no medical staff were infected.
As of yesterday, the Chinese authorities could not confirm if the pneumonia outbreak was linked to Sars. But MOH said it was aware of the cluster of severe pneumonia cases in the region and was monitoring the situation closely.
Meanwhile, suspected cases picked up by the temperature screening at Changi Airport will be referred to hospitals for further assessment. In addition, health advisory posters for travellers will be put up at the airport, and a health advisory will be issued to all inbound travellers on flights from Wuhan.
As of 8.30pm yesterday, MOH had not been notified of any suspected cases.
It advised travellers to Wuhan to monitor their health closely and seek medical attention promptly if they feel unwell, and to inform their doctor of their travel history.
MOH said travellers and members of the public should also adopt precautions at all times, including avoiding contact with live animals, consumption of raw and undercooked meat, contact with people who are unwell or showing symptoms of illness, and to practise frequent handwashing with soap.