Singapore has 'done well' in handling Wuhan coronavirus situation, but must remain vigilant: PM Lee

Singapore has 'done well' in handling Wuhan coronavirus situation, but must remain vigilant: PM Lee

Singapore has done well so far in handling the Wuhan coronavirus situation, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said during a visit to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) on Friday (Jan 31). Tan Si Hui with more.

SINGAPORE: Singapore has done well so far in handling the Wuhan coronavirus situation, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said during a visit to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) on Friday (Jan 31).

Several of the 13 confirmed Wuhan coronavirus cases in Singapore are currently warded in isolation rooms at the centre. 

Mr Lee said the country was able to quickly catch cases of the virus, as well as isolate and treat them, adding that doctors have told him the patients are faring well. 

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"But we have to continue to be vigilant, because the outbreak is far from over. In fact, it may still be accelerating in China," said Mr Lee.

"We have to continue to be on guard," he said, adding the Government and healthcare workers were prepared.

Continuing on this path would help ensure community spread of the virus is not a problem here, he said.

"There's every reason to be watchful, but there's also every reason to be confident," said Mr Lee.

PM Lee Hsien Loong at NCID Jan 31 (14)
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong talks to staff at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases on Jan 31. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)
 

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The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday declared the virus outbreak a "global emergency", with more than 9,800 confirmed cases and more than 200 deaths in China alone.

The WHO's assessment "confirmed Singapore's view of the situation", he said, adding the team of ministers tasked with handling the situation is evaluating what to do next.

On Thursday, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong announced that the Government would issue four masks to each household here.

This came amid reports of many retailers islandwide running out of the items, over widespread concerns of the Wuhan coronavirus.

He also said there should not be discrimination against Chinese nationals, noting the virus can infect people of any race.

"They (China) are trying very hard to fight it, and I think we should work with them to help make sure this is not a global problem," he said.

PM Lee Hsien Loong at NCID Jan 31 (1)
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong talks to the media at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases on Jan 31. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)

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One key difference from the SARS crisis is that social media is allowing rumours to spread more quickly, said Mr Lee, adding he was "very glad" the authorities had the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) to address the spread of untruths.

Some of these rumours are "malicious and deliberate", he said, made up by people whose aim was to deliberately foment fear, uncertainty and doubt.

These have been promptly addressed by POFMA, he said, adding that the Government is putting out accurate information as quickly as it can be verified.

Mr Lee also thanked healthcare workers on the frontlines, in places such as the NCID, adding he had a lot of respect for the difficult job they had to do.

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Source: CNA/nr(rw)

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