WHO 'very impressed' with Singapore's COVID-19 response

WHO 'very impressed' with Singapore's COVID-19 response

Coronavirus in Singapore: Temperature screening at Changi Airport 2
Temperature screening stations at Changi Airport Terminal 3 arrivals hall. (Photo: Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: Singapore is "leaving no stone unturned" as it faces the coronavirus outbreak, said World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Tuesday (Feb 18). 

"We are very impressed with the efforts they are making to find every case, follow up with contacts and stop transmission," said Dr Tedros at a media briefing. 

The WHO chief said he had spoken to Health Minister Gan Kim Yong about Singapore's response to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Explore our interactive: All the COVID-19 cases in Singapore and the clusters and links between them

READ: DORSCON: What you need to know about the framework that guides Singapore's pandemic response

"Singapore is leaving no stone unturned, testing every case of influenza-like illness and pneumonia," Dr Tedros added. 

"So far they have not found evidence of community transmission." 

ALL PNEUMONIA CASES TESTED FOR COVID-19: MOH

In response to queries by CNA, Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) said it "conducts proactive surveillance for COVID-19 by testing all pneumonia cases even if they do not meet our suspect case definition, particularly those that are hospitalised". 

MOH also tests samples for COVID-19 under their national public health sentinel surveillance programme, said a spokesperson.

"This programme routinely tests samples collected from patients with influenza-like illness (ILI) symptoms (eg fever and cough) obtained from general practitioner clinics and polyclinics for common respiratory viruses including influenza viruses."

About 300 to 600 samples are tested monthly under the programme.

"More than 400 ILI samples have been tested for COVID-19 since Jan 28, 2020, and none of the samples tested positive," they said.

On Tuesday night, Singapore announced that five COVID-19 patients were discharged after recovery, bringing the total of discharged patients to 29. 

A total of 81 people in Singapore have been infected with the coronavirus as of Tuesday night. 

Earlier on Monday, the MOH announced a new Stay-Home Notice for Singapore residents and long-term pass holders with recent travel history to mainland China outside the Hubei province. 

Such travellers will be required to stay home at all times during their 14-day leave period. This is stricter than the Leave of Absence measure, which allows them to leave their homes briefly, for example for meals or to buy household supplies. 

Singapore on Feb 7 raised the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) to Orange, prompting additional precautionary measures.

MANY COUNTRIES TAKING STEPS TO PROTECT THEMSELVES

Dr Tedros in the briefing also said he had spoken to Malaysia's health minister on the Westerdam case as well as the country's preparations. 

The cruise ship in Cambodia had many of its 2,200 people on board disembark after initially receiving a clean bill of health from authorities. 

An 83-year-old American woman was later diagnosed with the virus in Malaysia, raising concerns that other passengers might have been infected before flying to other countries.

"These signals show the importance of all countries being ready for the arrival of the virus, to treat patients with dignity and compassion, to protect health workers and to prevent onward transmission," said Dr Tedros. 

"Many countries are taking steps to prepare themselves, with WHO support," he added. 

Tedros said WHO has shipped personal protective equipment supplies to 21 countries, and will ship to another 106 countries in the coming weeks.


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