Wuhan virus: MOH expands travel advisory, now urges Singaporeans to avoid travel to Hubei province

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

SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Thursday night (Jan 23) expanded its travel advisory, saying that Singaporeans should now avoid travel to the whole of Hubei Province.

This is in the light of the travel restrictions that China has imposed on the Hubei cities of Huanggang and Ezhou earlier in the day.

Prior to that, MOH on Thursday afternoon urged people to avoid travelling to the Chinese city of Wuhan only. Wuhan is also in Hubei province.

The day before, the ministry had encouraged people to defer non-essential travel there.

MOH had, at the time, updated its travel advisory to avoid travelling to Wuhan "in view of the developing novel coronavirus situation in Wuhan and other parts of China", with confirmed cases spreading beyond Wuhan to Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Guangdong, which abuts densely populated Hong Kong.

It had also cited the travel halt imposed by the Chinese authorities on Thursday, as airports and train stations in Wuhan were temporarily closed and outbound flights cancelled.

As for travel to the rest of China, MOH on Thursday evening advised Singaporeans to continue to exercise caution and pay attention to personal hygiene.

More suspected Wuhan virus cases are also expected in Singapore due to the large number of cases in China and high travel volume from the country to Singapore, a ministry spokesman said at a media conference where it was announced that the Republic now has its first confirmed Wuhan virus case.

MOH urged all travellers to monitor their health closely for two weeks after returning to Singapore and to seek medical attention promptly if they feel unwell, and also inform their doctor of their travel history.

People who have a fever or respiratory symptoms, such as a cough or shortness of breath, should wear a mask and call the clinic ahead of the visit.

The ministry reminded travellers and members of the public to avoid contact with live animals and not to eat raw and undercooked meats.

They should also avoid crowded places and close contact with people who are unwell or showing symptoms of illness.

People are encouraged to wash their hands frequently with soap, such as before eating and handling food, after going to the toilet, or when they dirty their hands after coughing or sneezing.

Those who cough or sneeze should cover their mouths with a tissue paper and throw it away in a rubbish bin immediately after that.

Nearly 600 people in China have been confirmed to be infected by the Wuhan coronavirus, with 17 people dead.

Cases have also turned up in Thailand, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the United States and Vietnam.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.