Wuhan virus: S'pore may announce new measures in wake of WHO global health emergency declaration, says PM Lee

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gives out oranges to Clinic J nurse manager Imrana Banu Khider Mohamed, 34, and other NCID front-line staff during his visit there on Jan 31, 2020.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gives out oranges to Clinic J nurse manager Imrana Banu Khider Mohamed, 34, and other NCID front-line staff during his visit there on Jan 31, 2020.ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaks to NCID front-line staff during his visit there on Jan 31, 2020.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaks to NCID front-line staff during his visit there on Jan 31, 2020.ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - Singapore has been taking the Wuhan virus outbreak very seriously from the outset, and it is a dynamic situation which is far from over, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday (Jan 31).

He said that Singapore is watching the developments, and the latest assessment by the World Health Organisation (WHO) confirms its view of the situation, with ministers evaluating what should be done next.

"And I think they'll have some announcements to make later today," he said.

He was speaking during a visit to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), the hub of the nation's virus containment.

The WHO declared on Thursday (Jan 30) that the coronavirus epidemic in China now constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.

There is every reason to be watchful, PM Lee stressed, but there's also every reason to be confident.

He reminded individuals to do their part, and to be sensible.

Community spread has not occurred in Singapore, it is a long way from happening, and all efforts are being made to prevent it from happening, he said.

People should come forward when they are unwell so Singapore can identify the cases and isolate them, he noted. Personal hygiene is key, and people should wash their hands frequently, and not touch their face, mouth and eyes unnecessarily because that is how germs spread into the body, he stressed.

 
 

Those who are unwell should stay at home, away from work and crowds, but for those who are well, life could go on as normal, he added.

Asked how the Government plans to contain the spread of fake news about the virus, PM Lee said he was very glad that the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) is in place.

This is especially since some of the rumours going around are malicious and deliberate, with the intention to foment fear, uncertainty and doubt, he said.

"We've acted promptly with them against using Pofma, and we are very diligent in putting out information as quickly as we get it, and as quickly as we can verify it," he added.

 
 

He also noted that anti-Chinese sentiments have been reported elsewhere in the world, with people reacting particularly strongly to mainland Chinese because they are believed to be the cause of the infection.

"I think that's not quite the right approach to take. This is an illness; I don't think the Chinese wished it upon themselves," Mr Lee said. "They are trying very hard to fight it. And I think we should work with them to help make sure this is not a global problem."

The virus can affect any human being, he said, adding: "I think we should have that firmly in mind."

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