SINGAPORE: With the risk assessment for the novel coronavirus outbreak in Singapore raised from DORSCON Yellow to DORSCON Orange on Friday (Feb 7), the Ministry of Health (MOH) has introduced additional precautionary measures.
Speaking at a press conference, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong called on people to play their part in the fight against the coronavirus even as life goes on.
"For now, all of us will have to do our part, to stay vigilant, to keep our guards up, and carry on with our lives," said Mr Wong, who is co-chairing the multi-ministerial task force dealing with the situation.
This is what you need to know about how the raised risk assessment could affect you:
EMPLOYERS AND THE WORKPLACE
All employers should require staff to take their temperature at least twice a day, and check whether they have respiratory symptoms such as cough and runny nose, said MOH. Anyone who is unwell or found to have a fever should leave the office immediately to see a doctor.
All workplaces should step up business continuity plans and prepare for widespread community transmission, said MOH in the press release, noting that the plans can include allowing employees to telecommute or dividing the workforce into segregated teams.
Workers who come across customers who are unwell should immediately advise them to leave and go see a doctor, said the ministry.
SCHOOLS AND VULNERABLE GROUPS
With immediate effect, inter-school and external activities will be suspended until the end of the March school holidays, said the ministry. These include the national school games, learning journeys and camps.
All schools and teachers will continue to implement the enhanced measures announced on Tuesday, including cancellation of mass assemblies, staggered recesses as well as cancel camps and introduce visitor management.
Preschools and social or eldercare services will also limit the number of visitors to their premises.
Separately, temperature screening and closer controls of entry points in hospitals will be implemented. Measures to care for patients with pneumonia separately from other patients will also be introduced, to reduce the risk of transmission, said MOH, adding that it will continue to work with the healthcare institutions to enhance infection control.
The ministry has advised event organisers to cancel or defer non-essential large-scale events. Those that choose to proceed should take all the necessary precautions, including carrying out temperature screening and looking out for participants with respiratory symptoms and denying entry to those who are unwell.
Event organisers should also remind participants not to attend the event if they have recent travel history to mainland China, and require them to submit travel declarations where possible.
Event venues should be ventilated and adequately equipped with facilities for handwashing, and the frequency of cleaning for commonly used areas should be increased.
A registration list of participants should also be maintained if practical. MOH also stressed that individuals who are unwell, on leave of absence, or have recent travel history to mainland China should not attend such events.
ROLE OF INDIVIDUALS
The measures taken so far will only be effective in containing the spread of the virus if individuals also play their part, said MOH. Those who are unwell should stay at home, and wear a mask if they must go out to see a doctor. In particular, they should avoid coming into close and sustained contact with others.
MOH also stressed that the novel coronavirus is transmitted through contact with droplets from infected individuals, either directly or indirectly, through hands that have come into contact with these droplets. The virus can also transmit through surfaces that have been contaminated with these droplets.
“Even with community transmission, the most effective method to prevent transmission remains through good personal hygiene of regular handwashing with soap and water, and the use of hand sanitisers when soap and water are unavailable.
“We should avoid touching our face unnecessarily, and especially if our hands are not clean,” said the ministry, adding that people are advised not to shake hands during this period.