Lessons on coronavirus to be rolled out in schools: Ong Ye Kung

Residents collecting masks at Toa Payoh Central Zone 4 RC, on Feb 1, 2020.
Residents collecting masks at Toa Payoh Central Zone 4 RC, on Feb 1, 2020.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

The Ministry of Education is rolling out a campaign to teach students in schools and pre-schools about the coronavirus, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said yesterday.

The lessons will teach students what the virus is, how it is transmitted and outline two things they need to do to prevent its spread.

These include washing their hands with soap often and resisting the impulse to touch their faces, Mr Ong told Parliament.

The intention is to give students "homework" in the form of bringing the information home and telling their parents about it, he said.

Mr Ong was responding to Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar (Ang Mo Kio GRC), who asked if there are measures in place for children who may not be aware of the virus or practise proper hygiene, even as the Government continues to educate Singaporeans on the outbreak.

She was one of 20 MPs who asked supplementary questions in response to ministerial statements on the virus by Health Minister Gan Kim Yong and National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.

Dr Intan also asked if overseas school trips would be cancelled or postponed in response to the evolving coronavirus situation and the outbreaks of other viruses such as the recent avian flu (H5N1) outbreak in China's Hunan province and India's central Chhattisgarh state.

Mr Ong replied that all overseas trips to China for students from primary schools to tertiary institutions have now been postponed. His ministry will continue to monitor cases in other parts of the world and look at the facts before making further decisions, he added.

Mr Yee Chia Hsing (Chua Chu Kang GRC) asked if schools would be closed in the event of a community spread here and whether there will be announcements of alternatives available to parents.


Mr Ong said school closures must be considered and planned for.

He noted that schools were closed for several weeks at the height of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) outbreak in 2003. "We have to look at the data, at the evidence, look at the situation, and take into account all considerations before making any decisions," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 04, 2020, with the headline 'Lessons on coronavirus to be rolled out in schools: Ong Ye Kung'. Subscribe