After confirming an imported case of Wuhan Corona virus infection in Singapore on January 23, Ministry of Health (MOH) has put in place a multi-ministry task force to ramp up precautionary measures.
The case is a 66 year-old male Chinese national from Wuhan who arrived in Singapore with his family on January 20. He is currently warded in an isolation room at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and his condition is stable.
MOH has also been notified of a suspect case, who has tested preliminarily positive for the novel coronavirus. She is a 53-year-old female Chinese national from Wuhan. MOH was notified of this suspect case on January 23 at about 3am. The result of the confirmatory test is pending, and her condition is stable.
Both cases were immediately isolated upon presenting to the respective hospitals with clinical symptoms.
The Wuhan virus is a Zoonotic virus like the SARS virus and spreads between animals and humans. The origins of the SARS virus, which spread in 2002-2003, were found in bats. It was contracted by civet cats, and then passed on to humans via cat meat. On the other hand. the origins of the virus from Wuhan were found to be from the Huanan seafood and wild life market in Wuhan.
The confirmed case presented at SGH Emergency Department with fever and cough on January 22, and was immediately isolated. MOH was notified at about 10pm on January 22, and the test results were confirmed for the novel coronavirus at 6pm on January 23.
The patient reported that he had developed a sore throat but did not have fever during the flight to Singapore on January 20. He subsequently developed fever and cough on January 21. He was admitted and isolated at SGH on January 22 for further assessment, in view of his clinical symptoms and recent travel history from Wuhan. The patient was diagnosed to have pneumonia upon admission, and has been isolated since admission.
Prior to hospital admission, the patient stayed at Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa in Sentosa and indicated that he had kept to the vicinity of the hotel.
MOH has initiated contact tracing and nine close contacts of the case, who are his travelling companions, have so far been identified. One of his travelling companions has also been warded as a suspect case. He is a 37 year-old male Chinese national from Wuhan.
MOH release stated that the health status of all close contacts will be monitored closely. As a precautionary measure, they will be quarantined for 14 days from their last exposure to the patient. Those who develop symptoms will be brought to hospital in a dedicated ambulance for further assessment. In addition, all other identified contacts who have a low risk of being infected will be under active surveillance, and will be contacted daily to monitor their health status.
"Our public hospitals are geared up to handle the situation, and have put in place precautionary measures to screen and manage suspect and confirmed cases," MOH added. The ministry has also reminded doctors and healthcare workers to be highly vigilant, and maintain strict infection control and prevention measures.
Given the high volume of international travel to Singapore, MOH expects to see more suspect cases and imported cases. We urge the public to remain calm and vigilant, and to adopt good personal hygiene practices.
Taskforce ramps up precautionary measures
In view of the confirmed case, the taskforce set up to direct a whole-of-government response to the novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak has decided to step up Singapore’s overall posture. This would include enhancing our border controls, including at land and sea checkpoints.
Singapore will also expand our travel advisory to recommend that Singaporeans avoid travel to the whole of Hubei Province, in view of the travel restrictions that China has imposed on Huanggang and Ezhou. MOH also advises Singaporeans to continue to exercise caution and attention to personal hygiene when travelling to the rest of China.
All travellers should monitor their health closely for two weeks upon return to Singapore and seek medical attention promptly if they feel unwell, and also inform their doctor of their travel history. If they have a fever or respiratory symptoms (e.g. cough, shortness of breath ), they should wear a mask and call the clinic ahead of the visit.
Travellers and members of the public should adopt the following precautions at all times:
- Avoid contact with live animals including poultry and birds, and consumption of raw and undercooked meats;
- Avoid crowded places and close contact with people who are unwell or showing symptoms of illness;
Observe good personal hygiene;
- Practise frequent hand washing with soap (e.g. before handling food or eating, after going to toilet, or when hands are dirtied by respiratory secretions after coughing or sneezing);
- Wear a mask if you have respiratory symptoms such as a cough or shortness of breath ;
- Cover your mouth with a tissue paper when coughing or sneezing, and dispose the soiled tissue paper in the rubbish bin immediately; and
- Seek medical attention promptly if you are feeling unwell.