Schools step up precautions after Wuhan virus case confirmed in Singapore

Schools step up precautions after Wuhan virus case confirmed in Singapore

Schools in Singapore will be taking precautionary measures to safeguard students' well-being in light of the Wuhan virus outbreak, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said on Thursday (Jan 23). Tan Si Hui reports.

SINGAPORE: Schools in Singapore will be taking precautionary measures to safeguard students' well-being in light of the Wuhan virus outbreak, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said on Thursday (Jan 23).

Singapore confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus on Thursday evening, prompting authorities to announce more stringent preventive measures.

READ: Wuhan virus in Singapore: What can you do?

READ: Wuhan virus outbreak - At a glance

Earlier on Thursday, schools in Singapore had issued a notice to parents to declare their Chinese New Year travel plans.

"The details submitted are accessible only by authorised personnel and facilitate health measures to be taken in the event of heightened concerns after the holidays," the note sent out via the Parents Gateway app said. 

parents letter wuhan
The notice sent out by schools via the Parents Gateway mobile application. 
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After the announcement of Singapore's first imported case of the deadly virus, MOE updated its advice to parents.

The ministry said that in addition to the travel declarations, those who have travelled to China will be advised to monitor their health and take their temperature regularly for 14 days upon their return. 

MOE has also issued advisories to remind all students and staff to practise good personal hygiene.

READ: Wuhan virus: SIA, Scoot step up precautionary measures for all China flights

READ: Wuhan virus in Singapore - What we know about the confirmed cases

Measures recommended include washing hands frequently with soap, visiting a doctor when sick and only going to school after recovery, as well as wearing a surgical mask if they have a cough or runny nose to prevent infecting others. 

The ministry will also take necessary precautions for student trips. 

"There are no student trips to Hubei province planned currently. As for other parts of China, there are none for the month of February," said MOE. 

"MOE is working closely with MOH, and will monitor the situation and advise schools, the polytechnics and ITE to postpone trips in March and later, if necessary," the ministry added. 

In a Facebook post on Wednesday night, Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung said the ministry, schools and IHLs have established measures to ensure the safety of students and staff since the major SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak in 2003. 

“We stand ready to activate them if the situation requires it,” he wrote.

He added that the ministry is working closely with the Ministry of Health and other agencies as part of a “whole-of-government response” against the Wuhan virus outbreak. 

He urged parents to watch their children’s health and seek immediate medical attention if they are unwell, and to ensure they recover fully before returning to school for classes. 

The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) had also said on Wednesday that it has issued advisories to preschools and student care centres, informing them of precautionary measures "to ensure the well-being of children and staff". 

READ: Singapore confirms first case of Wuhan virus

READ: Singapore forms Wuhan virus ministerial task force, imported case "inevitable" - Gan Kim Yong

The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) reminded preschools to be vigilant in conducting health checks and monitoring the health of children and its employees.

"As infants and young children are more vulnerable to infectious diseases, preschool staff are advised to defer non-essential travel to Wuhan during this period," said the ministry in a press release.  

MSF said it was also working closely with the community-based and residential facilities under its purview to make sure that "necessary precautionary measures are taken".

On Wednesday, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong announced the formation of a multi-ministerial task force to deal with Wuhan virus situation in Singapore. 

Following the news of the first confirmed case, border screening was expanded to all land and sea checkpoints, while a travel advisory has been expanded for Singaporeans to avoid travelling to Hubei province. 

READ: Scoot cancels flights to China's Wuhan over virus outbreak

READ: Death toll from virus outbreak in China's Hubei reaches 17 - State television

For full coverage and latest developments on the Wuhan virus outbreak: https://cna.asia/wuhan-virus

This story has been updated to reflect more recent developments in the Wuhan virus outbreak.

Source: CNA/hw/hs(hm)

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