The Ministry of Health (MOH) announced three more confirmed cases as of Feb. 7, 2020.
This brings the total to 33.
Four have no identified links as of yet to any of the previous cases, which is evidence that community spread of the coronavirus in Singapore has occurred.
DORSCON Orange alert
In an update today, MOH has also stepped up their risk assessment from Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) Yellow alert, to Orange.
An Orange alert indicates that the disease is severe and spreads easily from person to person. However, the disease has not yet spread widely in Singapore and is being contained.
[caption id="attachment_440801" width="720"] Photo from MOH[/caption]
More measures at events
Due to the heightened risk, MOH will be introducing additional precautionary measures to further reduce the spread of the virus in the community.
As events are high-risk areas with large crowds, event organisers are advised to cancel or defer non-essential large-scale events.
Organisers that choose to proceed have to take "all necessary precautions", which include:
- Carry out temperature screening,
- Look out for respiratory symptoms (like cough, runny nose) in guests and deny entry to unwell individuals,
- Remind participants with recent travel history to China not to attend, and to require travel declaration if possible,
- Ensure event venues are well ventilated and well equipped with hand-washing facilities,
- Increase the frequency of cleaning common and high-traffic areas and,
- Maintain a registration list of participants.
Individuals on Leave of Absence should not attend such events too.
Health checks at workplace
MOH also stated that all employers should require their employees to conduct regular temperature taking, and check for respiratory symptoms.
Temperature checks should be conducted twice a day.
Anyone with a fever or is unwell should leave the office immediately to consult a doctor.
Businesses to stay prepared
All businesses should step up business continuity plans and prepare for widespread community transmission.
Such plans can include allowing employees to telecommute, or segregate their workforce into different teams.
Since the start of the outbreak, numerous companies have already been experimenting with work-from-home systems, and holding meetings via video chats.
More measures at hospitals and preschools
Healthcare institutions will also see improved measures.
MOH will implement temperature screening and closer controls of entry points into hospitals.
Hospitals will also be introducing measures to care for pneumonia-stricken patients separately from other patients, to reduce the risk of transmission.
Additionally, MOH will continue to work with healthcare institutions in Singapore to enhance infection control.
Aside from hospitals, preschools and social or eldercare services will be limiting the number of visitors allowed into their premises.
Individual effort is key
Despite the stringent measures in place at institutions and businesses, MOH stressed that individual action is still key to reducing the spread of the virus.
The most effective method to prevent transmission is ultimately through good personal hygiene like regular hand washing with soap.
Hand sanitisers should be utilised when soap and water are unavailable.
MOH also discourages people from touching their face, especially when one's hands are dirty.
Handshakes are also discouraged in this period—people can adopt alternative greetings instead.
Those who are unwell should stay at home and wear a mask if they have to leave the house. Unwell individuals should avoid coming into close and sustained proximity with others.
Workers who come across customers who are unwell should advise them to leave the premises and see a doctor.
Top photo from jo.sau / Flickr