SINGAPORE: Singapore remains focused on "minimising" the risk of a community spread of the Wuhan coronavirus, said Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran on Sunday (Feb 2).
Several measures were announced over the past week, including widening travel restrictions for new visitors who have recent travel history to mainland China. These measures are "in the best interests of our community and society", Mr Iswaran said.
"So our focus is to ensure, to the best of our ability, that the risk of a community spread in Singapore is minimised," he added. "That is where our focus should be, resolutely."
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Mr Iswaran was responding to a question about the first death from the coronavirus outside China. Earlier Sunday, the Philippines reported that a 44-year-old man from Wuhan had died in a hospital in Manila after being tested positive for the coronavirus.
As of Sunday, there are more than 14,000 confirmed cases worldwide. More than 300 people have died after contracting the virus.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Saturday confirmed two additional imported cases of the Wuhan coronavirus on Saturday, bringing the total number of cases here to 18. There is no evidence of community spread in Singapore, MOH said.
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Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a Chinese New Year event by the West Coast Vista Residents' Committee, Mr Iswaran urged Singaporeans to remain calm.
"We are also counting on Singaporeans to cooperate with us, stay calm, get their information from the right sources, heed the advice that is being given, and to carry on with life as per normal to the best of our abilities," he said.
"If we come together, we will pull through this," the minister added.
Mr Iswaran - who is a Member of Parliament for West Coast GRC - said while there is a "clear healthcare challenge", it was also a "psychological and social challenge".
"The response that we have seen from Singaporeans reinforces and attests to the character of our society - that we are a cohesive and resilient society," he said.
He pointed to examples such as soldiers from the Singapore Armed Forces packing masks to be distributed to Singapore households, efforts from grassroots volunteers in reaching out to residents, and the "disciplined and orderly manner" in which residents collected their masks.
Earlier this week, it was announced that every Singapore household would each receive four surgical masks.
Speaking during a visit to a mask collection centre at Blangah Court CC, Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said authorities had "multiple layers of defence" to rise to the public health challenge.
"But it takes the whole of community, the whole of society working close together, building trust with each other, and ensuring that in our society, there is that social compact, that one will take precautions (and) exercise social responsibility," he said.
About 6 per cent of all households have collected their masks as of Saturday night, the minister added.