The Ministry of Health (MOH) has raised the risk assessment for the 2019-nCoV coronavirus to DORSCON Orange, which signifies widespread transmission from unknown sources. This is just one level below Red, which signifies an out-of-control pandemic.
It would be good to recall at this juncture that during the SARS pandemic as well, Singapore had moved the risk assessment status to Orange, meaning the disease was severe and spread easily, but still contained.
The reason for the step up to DORSCON Orange is that there are now a few local cases without any links to previous cases or travel history to China.
With the heightened risk, the Singapore government will be introducing additional measures to minimise the risk of further transmission of the virus and precautions in the community as below:
- May continue as planned, but with additional precautions and thorough medical screening.
- Those who are unwell, are on LOA or have recent travel history to mainland China should not be allowed to large scale events.
- The event venues should be well ventilated and adequately equipped with facilities for handwashing.
- Event organisers should maintain a registration list of participants if possible.
General daily practices to be stepped up at workplaces
- Daily health checks at the workplace, with twice-daily temperature checks.
- Those with fever or unwell should leave the office immediately to see a doctor.
Enhanced business continuity capability at workplaces
- All workplaces should step up and get ready their business continuity plans, in case there is widespread community transmission.
Healthcare workers and vulnerable groups
- Protection of vulnerable groups and at Healthcare institutions raised through temperature screening and closer controls of entry points into the hospitals.
- Social/ elder care services will impose restrictions on visitors to their premises.
- With immediate effect, schools will suspend inter-school and external activities until further notice. These include the national school games, learning journeys and camps.
- All schools and teachers will also continue to implement the enhanced measures announced on 4 February, such as classroom-based assemblies, school-based co-curricular activities in smaller groups and staggered recesses.
- Preschools will impose restrictions on visitors to their premises.
Role of individuals
- Prevent transmission remains through good personal hygiene of regular handwashing with normal soap and water, and the use of hand sanitisers when soap and water are unavailable.
- Avoid touching our face with our hands unnecessarily, and especially if our hands are not clean.
- As a general good practice, it is advised not to shake hands during this period, as was adopted during the SARS crisis, but adopt alternative greetings such as clasping your hands in a 'namaste' gesture.
- People who are unwell should stay at home, and wear a mask if they must go out, such as on their way to the doctor’s.
The Singapore government advices residents to keep updated on the DORSCON status for nCoV on the MOH website.