SINGAPORE: A Singaporean who was infected with COVID-19 in Hubei province has been discharged, said Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan in Parliament on Monday (Feb 2).
Dr Balakrishnan said the Singapore Embassy in Beijing had been in touch with the man and offered him assistance when he was infected.
The central Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei province is believed to be where the current coronavirus outbreak - which has infected more than 88,000 people worldwide as of Monday - originated.
The minister was responding to a question from Sembawang GRC Member of Parliament Lim Wee Kiak, who had asked how many registered Singaporeans were still in China and how many there were infected by the coronavirus.
Dr Balakrishnan noted that more than 2,000 Singaporeans in mainland China had electronically registered themselves with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) since the outbreak of COVID-19.
While MFA does not track the movements of Singaporeans who are overseas, he said it was “reasonable” to assume that a number of them would have visited China and left, or returned to Singapore for the time being.
“Based on our current records, there are still more than 1,900 Singaporeans in mainland China who are e-registered with us. We believe that the actual number is actually much higher.”
In light of the COVID-19 situation in China as well as an increasing number of countries worldwide, he urged Singaporeans to e-register themselves, noting this allows the ministry to contact them in case of emergencies.
Dr Balakrishnan - who is also the Minister-in-Charge of the Smart Nation Initiative - noted this can be easily done through the SingPass Mobile app.
He also noted two evacuation flights on Jan 30 and Feb 9, organised by the Government, had repatriated 266 Singaporeans and their family members - many of whom had registered themselves with MFA - from Wuhan back to Singapore.
They were later placed in Government quarantine facilities. Of these, seven had tested positive for COVID-19 but later recovered and were discharged from hospital, Dr Balakrishnan said.
READ: How Foreign Service officers in China worked around the clock to evacuate Singaporeans from Hubei
Responding to a supplementary question from Mountbatten MP Lim Biow Chuan, he noted Singapore citizens who had chosen to remain in China had done so for a number of reasons, including work and family commitments there.
“We will have to continue to keep watch on the viral outbreak in China and indeed in many other places of the world as the situation unfolds. In the meantime life must go on even as we take the additional precautions and make the necessary adjustments.”
Dr Balakrishnan also commended MFA’s consular officers for working “extra hard” in looking out for Singapore citizens overseas since the coronavirus outbreak began.
“We will not leave any Singaporean behind,” he said.