SINGAPORE: The National Environment Agency (NEA) on Saturday (Feb 1) advised members of the public to not speculate or spread "unfounded rumours" regarding the Wuhan coronavirus.
Referring to a circulating text message that contains a list of "places to avoid" in Singapore, NEA said that there is no need for members of the public to avoid these locations.
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The text message that is currently being shared on messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and Telegram includes the names of hotels, hospitals and shopping centres that have been purportedly exposed to confirmed cases in Singapore.
“We would like to assure the public that NEA officers have been liaising closely with, and providing support to, residents and owners of premises, to ensure that the cleaning and disinfection of areas are done in accordance with our guidelines.
"We have also issued sanitation and hygiene advisories to premises and facilities with high public access like hotels and F&B outlets, including hawker centres," NEA said.
Singapore has reported 18 cases of the infection as of Saturday.
Many of the confirmed cases are visitors to Singapore and have been to locations such as Orchard Road, Gardens by the Bay and Sentosa.
Acting clinical director for the National Centre for Infectious Diseases, Dr Shawn Vasoo told CNA that rumours claiming members of the public can get the coronavirus infection from walking through certain places is “categorically untrue”.
“You don't get infection typically from places, but from infected persons. So I would say that the messages that have been going out on WhatsApp and other social media … we should not be spreading them because it causes an unnecessary degree of paranoia and worry amongst people.
“You only get infected by, typically, by an infected person and you have to be in quite close contact with the person,” he said.
Dr Vasoo also said that “close contact” typically refers to people who are living in the same household, those who are caring for someone who might be infected, or those who are the same space for a prolonged period of time.
Transient contact – for example, walking past someone in a public space – is not considered close contact and the likelihood for infection for that is probably minuscule, he added.