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Singapore's land transport operators, ride-hailing services respond to Wuhan virus threat

SINGAPORE: Singapore's land transport operators have responded to the Wuhan virus threat, with ComfortDelgro saying on Friday (Jan 24) it has increased its "level of preparedness".

The coronavirus has infected hundreds in China with several cases confirmed in other countries.

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

READ: Wuhan virus outbreak - At a glance

Surgical masks have now been placed at all ComfortDelGro fuel kiosks, workshops and general counters for distribution to taxi drivers, the group said, with more ready for deployment should the need arise, it added.

“Ever since SARS in 2003, we have made sure that we are always ready for any similar incident," said Group CEO Yang Ban Seng.

"As part of our business continuity plans, we have stockpiled masks and disinfectants to ensure that we are never caught unaware. We hope that we do not need to activate these plans but we will if we have to."

Singapore confirmed its first case of the Wuhan virus on Thursday evening - a male Wuhan resident, 66, who arrived in Singapore with his family on Jan 20. He is currently in isolation at the Singapore General Hospital and is in stable condition. 

Two more people were confirmed to be carrying the virus on Friday afternoon, including the 37-year-old son of the first confirmed case.

READ: Singapore confirms first case of Wuhan virus

READ: PM Lee says Singapore 'better prepared' for another virus after SARS outbreak

A stepped-up cleaning and disinfecting schedule will also be activated as the situation develops, ComfortDelGro said in a news release.

Travel and personal hygiene advisories have also been issued to all its employees, including its cabbies, bus captains, frontline and backend staff, it added.

"They have been encouraged to take precautionary measures such as cleaning and disinfecting their taxis more frequently and to wear a face mask if they have respiratory symptoms such as a cough or runny nose to protect those around them. 

“If they feel unwell, they should see a doctor immediately,“ said ComfortDelGro, which owns bus operator SBS Transit.

SMRT, Grab and Gojek employees have been given similar advisories, according to the companies' reply to CNA's queries.

READ: Wuhan virus: What we know about the fatalities

READ: Wuhan virus: A timeline of how the new coronavirus spread

Both ComfortDelGro and SMRT employees have been advised to avoid all travel to Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, and to exercise caution and attention to personal hygiene when travelling to the rest of China.

Staff members of the two operators and Grab, including drivers and food delivery riders, who have travelled to China recently have also been asked to monitor their health closely for two weeks upon their return to Singapore, and to seek medical attention promptly if they feel unwell.

SMRT also said that those returning from China will undergo mandatory temperature taking.

"As a precautionary measure for our commuters, hand sanitisers are available at all MRT stations and bus interchanges," added SMRT.

Grab said it is in touch with the authorities and is "working on stockpiling masks and disinfectant for deployment should the need arise".

Gojek said it is "working closely" with the authorities to maintain the safety and well-being of customers and drivers, including "a process for contact tracing".

Drivers can also pick up surgical masks, hand sanitisers and anti-bacterial wipes at the GoHub centre in Midview City, added Gojek.

READ: WHO says 'bit too early' to declare coronavirus a global emergency

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

The coronavirus, which started in Wuhan city has left at least 26 people dead in China and has infected more than 800 as of Friday. 

Cases have been confirmed in Singapore, Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam and the United States.

For full coverage and latest developments on the Wuhan virus outbreak:

Source: CNA/nr/jt


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