Wuhan virus: Singapore companies with projects in Chinese city step up precautionary measures

Wuhan virus: Singapore companies with projects in Chinese city step up precautionary measures

An official uses a thermometer on a traveller at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport
An official uses an infrared thermometer on a traveller at a health screening checkpoint at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan in southern China's Hubei province on Jan 21, 2020. (Photo: AP/Emily Wang)

SINGAPORE: Singapore businesses with a presence in Wuhan said they have issued advisories to employees in light of the new coronavirus outbreak in the Chinese city.

At least 17 people have died after being infected by the virus, with more than 570 confirmed cases across China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Macau and Hong Kong, said Chinese health authorities. Cases have also been reported in Thailand, the United States, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.

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On Thursday (Jan 23) ahead of the Chinese New Year holiday,  Wuhan is under effective quarantine, with outward flights and trains suspended, subways halted and large public events cancelled.

ST Engineering said while it does not have an office or Singaporeans based in Wuhan, it is involved in several rail projects there. Those who commute from its Shanghai office to manage the rail projects are local employees, the company told CNA.  But since the start of this week, it has stopped all business commutes to Wuhan.

Employees travelling for business elsewhere have been asked to monitor their health closely, seek medical attention promptly if they feel unwell, and inform their doctor of their travel history, ST Engineering said, adding that staff who show symptoms of the coronavirus after travelling to China are allowed to return to the office only after 14 days. 

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An internal travel advisory has also been issued to all employees, the company said in an email response. The preventive measures include: avoiding contact with live or dead animals including poultry and birds, and consumption of raw and undercooked meats; washing their hands frequently; wearing a mask if they show respiratory symptoms such as coughing or runny nose. 

The company also subscribes to third party services that keeps track of staff on overseas duties, ST Engineering added. It updates them on any ongoing situations and offers assistance if necessary. The company declined to say what third party services they use.

CapitaLand, which has several developments in Wuhan, said employees have been advised to observe their personal hygiene, monitor their health closely, check their temperature daily, seek medical attention promptly if they feel unwell and inform their doctor of their travel history. 

Employees in Wuhan are provided with face masks and advised to avoid crowded places as much as possible, added the spokesperson for the developer. 

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A spokesperson for Perennial Real Estate Holdings, which runs the eldercare facility Wuhan Renshoutang Xiehe Eldercare and Retirement Home in Wuhan, said no Singaporean employees are based at the facility. 

The property developer's eldercare business arm in China, Renshoutang, said it has ramped up efforts throughout all the facilities in China to ensure the safety of its staff and clients.

Some of the measures implemented include banning external personnel - including family members of the elderly - with flu and fever-like symptoms from entering their premises, "air disinfection works" twice a day, having two temperature checks in a day, and limiting visiting hours with no night visitations allowed. 

The facility in Wuhan has adhered to the Chinese government's latest quarantine directive, said the spokesperson. Elderly clients are not allowed to leave the facility, nor are visitations permitted. 

"As the elderly is a relatively more vulnerable group, our onground team will take extra precautionary measures to ensure the well-being of our residents at Renshoutang," the spokesperson said.

Similarly, a Frasers Property spokesperson said it has advised its employees worldwide to stay vigilant, practice good hygiene, and immediately seek medical attention if they exhibit any symptoms associated with the coronavirus. 

The real estate group has at least one property in Wuhan, the service apartment Modena by Fraser ZhuanKou Wuhan.

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“We will continue to put in place appropriate precautionary measures for staff and customers at our properties, and update based on the latest health advisories provided by authorities, including the World Health Organization,” the spokesperson said.

Mapletree Investments and GLP, which have properties in Wuhan, declined to comment.

Enterprise Singapore, which helps companies from Singapore expand overseas said that it is “monitoring the situation closely and will continue to support Singapore companies who have presence in the city.”

Companies should refers to any advisories put our by the Singapore health and foreign affairs ministries, it added.

On Tuesday, the Singapore embassy in Beijing issued an advisory to Singaporeans living in China on its Facebook page.

According to the Wuhan Bureau of Commerce, Singapore’s cumulative actual investments in Wuhan reached about US$2.75 billion as of 2017.

Singapore companies that have ventured into the city cut across sectors such as real estate, technology and urban solutions, Enterprise Singapore said.

Wuhan city infographic

MORE: Our coverage on the Wuhan virus and its developments

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

Source: CNA/rp

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