Singapore Outbreak Alert For Coronavirus Raised To Orange As More Cases With No Known Links Surface

Nikki De Guzman

As more cases novel coronavirus without any links to previous cases or travel history to mainland China, Singapore upped its Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level from yellow to orange on Friday (Feb 7), the Ministry of Health confirmed in a press release.

Code Orange is one step below Red, which signifies an out-of-control pandemic. 

Three more are confirmed to have been infected with the virus, all who have no known links to previous cases or travel history to China. This brings the total number of such cases to 4, and the total number of coronavirus cases here to 33.

Gov’t stepping up precautionary measures in schools

The MOH said the efforts in “aggressively trying to stop or limit further spread” will be the focus of the government’s pandemic readiness and preparedness plan.

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The MOE had earlier announced additional precautionary measures to minimise congregation of students in large numbers. These measures included:

  • Large group and communal activities such as assemblies, camps and mass celebrations will be suspended
  • Recess times in schools will be staggered
  • School-based CCAs and after-school programmes may continue, in smaller groups

With immediate effect, schools will suspend inter-school and external activities until the end of the March holidays. These include the national school games, learning journeys and camps. All schools and teachers will also continue to implement already announced enhanced measures such as classroom-based assemblies, the MOH said.

top primary schools in singapore

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Restrictions on visitors to pre-schools, social and eldercare premises will also be imposed.

Meanwhile, Ms Liew Wei Li, director of schools at the Ministry of Education, said schools will continue to implement other enhanced measures. For example, at primary schools teachers are accompanying pupils to sinks before recess and snack times to ensure they wash their hands. 

The Ministry of Education (MOE) said it will continue to work with schools, parents and the community.

This comes after one of the new cases confirmed by MOH today include a teacher from Victoria Junior College (VJC) who tested positive for 2019-nCoV infection on Thursday (6 Feb). It was reported that she developed symptoms on 2 February and was last in school on 31 January. 

“VJC is thus further stepping up precautionary measures to protect its school community. Students, teachers and staff who had recently come into contact with the teacher will be issued with a 14-day Leave of Absence (LOA),” the MOE said. “Co-curricular activities in VJC have also been suspended for two weeks with immediate effect. Instead of lectures, there will be more tutorial size classes. The school is also cleaning and disinfecting the school premises thoroughly,” it added.

Additional measures kick in

For large scale events, additional precautions are advised to organisers:

  • Organisers of the events should carry out temperature screening,
  • Look out for respiratory symptoms such as cough or runny nose, and deny entry to unwell individuals.
  • Remind participants not to attend if the participants have recent travel history to mainland China, and if practical, require travel declaration.
  • Ensure event venues are ventilated and are adequately equipped with facilities for handwashing.
  • Increase the frequency of cleaning commonly used areas, and maintain a registration list of participants if practical.

Individuals who are unwell, on Leave of Absence, or have recent travel history to mainland China, should not attend.

MOH: “Good hygiene is critical”

Since the virus is can spread through droplets from infect individuals and transmit through surface contact, the government reiterates that good hygiene is critical. Those who are unwell are also urged to be socially responsible.

Hands should be washed regularly with soap and water, or use hand sanitizers when handwashing is not possible. Unnecessary touching of faces should also be avoided.

 

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