Reports of landlords evicting people on home quarantine or leave of absence 'troubling': Iswaran

Reports of landlords evicting people on home quarantine or leave of absence 'troubling': Iswaran

S Iswaran at a press conference on Jan 31, 2020
Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran speaks at a press conference on Jan 31, 2020. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)

SINGAPORE: Communications and Information Minister S Iswaran said on Friday (Jan 31) that the Government has heard "troubling or disturbing stories" of landlords who are evicting people serving their home quarantine or taking leave of absence, as Singapore ramps up on precautionary measures against the spread of the coronavirus here. 

"This is not the kind of response we need," said Mr Iswaran in a press conference, which was also attended by Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, MOH's director of medical services Kenneth Mak and Immigration and Checkpoints Authority commissioner Marvin Sim. 

"We are all in this together. Those on quarantine or leave of absence are subject to this for the sake of the wider community so that the rest of us do not run the risk of infection.

READ: Singaporean evacuated from Wuhan among country's 3 new cases of coronavirus, total now 16 - MOH

READ: WHO declares international emergency over Wuhan virus

"We do not know how this situation will evolve and there may be other cases that need similar action. It is an overall national effort," said Mr Iswaran. 

Earlier on Friday, the World Health Organization had declared the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern.

"This means the global community now has an even greater impetus to work together to contain the virus and then to eradicate the threat," said Mr Iswaran. 

He cited the widened travel restrictions announced by Mr Wong during the press conference, which blocks entry for new visitors with recent travel history to China, including Chinese passport holders who are not Singapore permanent residents or long-term pass holders. 

Singapore residents returning from China will have to take a 14-day leave of absence. 

READ: Wuhan coronavirus: Singapore to widen travel restrictions to all new visitors who recently travelled to mainland China

READ: Nearly 1,000 students, staff on leave of absence after returning from China, says MOE

The Ministry of Education said on Friday morning that nearly 1,000 students and staff are currently on leave of absence after returning from China. 

Other measures include the nationwide mask distribution, which starts on Saturday, as well as the use of the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) legislations to tackle the spread of false information.

With all these measures, "there will be some disruptions to our daily lives", said Mr Iswaran, calling on the "understanding and cooperation of all Singaporeans". 

 He praised the efforts of Singaporeans who have been buying food and running errands for their neighbours who are under quarantine.

“These are heart-warming efforts, and it speaks loudly of the big heart and resilient spirit of Singaporeans,” he said. “That is the spirit that we need and we want to stand together to defeat the virus and the challenge it poses. We have done it before, as with SARS, and we can do it again.”

READ: POFMA temporary exemptions to be lifted, move 'critical' given evolving coronavirus situation: MCI

READ: 1,500 SAF personnel packing 5.2 million masks in 24-hour operation

NO COMMUNITY SPREAD IN SINGAPORE

There remains no community spread of the Wuhan coronavirus in Singapore as of Friday evening. 

Three new cases were confirmed by MOH, one of whom was a Singaporean who was evacuated from Wuhan earlier in the week. 

The 13 previously confirmed cases are in stable condition and making "good clinical progress", said Mr Mak. 

None of them are critically ill, he added.

Fifteen of the total confirmed cases are Chinese nationals who had travelled to the city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak.

“To date, there’s no evidence of any local spread to any Singapore resident in Singapore and we remain watchful and vigilant to make sure that this continues to be so. Contact tracing for contacts of our local cases continues, and it is still underway," he said.

Asked about the possibility of cancelling events such as the Singapore Air Show over virus fears, Mr Wong said scheduled events will proceed as planned but precautions will be taken.

Some attendees may be prevented from showing up due to the travel restrictions, but there are no plans to cancel the Air Show at this stage, he added.

BOOKMARK THIS: Our comprehensive coverage on the Wuhan coronavirus and its developments

Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the Wuhan virus outbreak: https://cna.asia/telegram 

Source: CNA/ga(hs)

Bookmark