SINGAPORE: Chinese New Year event organisers and religious institutions are taking precautions in response to the Wuhan virus threat as the situation continued to develop in Singapore, with three confirmed cases and more than 40 suspect cases as of Friday (Jan 24).
The initiative came as the country's authorities stepped up measures, including temperature screening at all land and sea checkpoints, and efforts by land transport operators and ride-hailing services to contain the threat.
"We are aware of the need to anticipate and take preliminary precaution against the Wuhan virus," said the organiser of the River Hongbao, a major Chinese New Year celebration held at The Float @ Marina Bay, which "expects more than 1 million visitors every year".
"We have placed a total of 10 health advisory posters in prominent locations, at the five entrances to RHB (River Hongbao), as a reminder to visitors to take health precautions," said an event spokesperson in response to CNA's queries.
"In addition, we have just installed five thermal imagery systems, one at each RHB entrance."
With the event already underway since Thursday and is slated to run until Feb 1, the spokesperson added: "We will monitor the situation closely and adopt more stringent measures if necessary."
Precautionary measures are also being put in place by the Catholic Church which has more than 373,000 members in Singapore, around one-third of which attend weekend masses, according to a church survey.
The Singapore archdiocese on Friday laid out these precautions "in support of measures that are already in place around Singapore" in a chancery notice for its members.
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Catholics who are unwell or exhibit symptoms of flu are exempted from attending masses "where crowds are present", the notice said.
"It is not a sin to miss Mass on Sundays or holy days of obligation if one is sick," said the church on its Catholic Life Singapore Facebook page.
"Priests who have flu-like symptoms should only cover essential duties that do not bring them in contact with the public," the chancery notice also said.
To prevent the spread of germs, communion wafer should only be received on the hand, as opposed to directly on the tongue, "during this period of health concern".
The distribution of communion wine - normally using a shared chalice - will also be suspended.
"These conditions are in place until the archdiocesan chancery issues an update. Please pray for the swift healing of the afflicted and the containment of the virus," the Facebook post added.
The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) similarly advised Muslims who feel unwell to seek medical treatment and avoid crowded places, including mosques.
"As Muslims, we should always strive to maintain good personal hygiene", and in the current situation, "it is even more important for us to be cautious and take good care of ourselves and our loved ones," said MUIS in a Facebook post.
"Our madrasahs will continue to take precautionary measures to ensure the safety and well-being of students and staff.
"Students and staff have also been advised to declare their travel plans over the Chinese New Year weekend," it added.
More than 800 cases of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus have been confirmed in China, while the death toll climbed to 26 on Friday.
The outbreak prompted a massive quarantine effort by Chinese authorities that has expanded to 13 cities and 41 million people.
Infected patients have also been confirmed in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand and the US.
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