MOH monitoring China pneumonia outbreak, will implement temperature screening at Changi Airport

MOH monitoring China pneumonia outbreak, will implement temperature screening at Changi Airport

A passenger walks past a temperature screening at the Changi International Airport
A passenger walks past a temperature screening at the Changi International Airport on May 8, 2003. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Thursday (Jan 2) it is aware of the outbreak of a cluster of severe pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China, and is monitoring the situation closely.

Wuhan, in the central Hubei province, had on Monday issued a notification saying hospitals have treated a "successive series of patients with unexplained pneumonia”, without offering more details.

"As a precautionary measure, MOH has alerted all medical practitioners to be vigilant to look out for suspected cases with pneumonia who have recently returned from Wuhan," the ministry said on Thursday in a statement.

"Suspect cases with fever and acute respiratory illness or pneumonia and with travel history to Wuhan within 14 days before onset of symptoms will be isolated as a precautionary measure to prevent transmission."

From Friday evening, temperature screening will be implemented at Changi Airport for all travellers arriving from Wuhan, with suspected cases being referred to hospitals for further assessment.

“Health advisory posters for all travellers will be put up at Changi Airport and a health advisory will be provided to all inbound travellers on flights from Wuhan,” it added.

MOH said it has not been notified of any suspected cases as of Thursday.

The ministry advised those travelling to Wuhan to monitor their health closely and to seek medical attention promptly if they feel unwell. They should inform their doctor of their travel history.

During their travel, they should avoid contact with live animals and not eat raw and undercooked meats. Travellers should wash their hands with soap frequently and wear a mask if they have respiratory symptoms such as a cough or runny nose. 

On Tuesday, state media reported that China is investigating the outbreak of atypical pneumonia that is suspected of being linked to SARS. 

A team of experts from the National Health Commission were dispatched on Tuesday and are "conducting relevant inspection and verification work", CCTV reported.

SARS killed 349 people in mainland China and another 299 in Hong Kong in 2003.

The virus, which infected more than 8,000 people around the world including Singapore, is expected to have originated in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

In Singapore, 238 people were infected and the SARS virus killed 33 people.

In May 2004, WHO announced that China was free of the deadly SARS virus.

Source: CNA/Agencies/ec

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