Government officials announced on Friday, January 31, that all individuals having visited mainland China in the preceding 14 days will be denied entry into or transit through Singapore, due to the ongoing novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak. Singapore nationals, Permanent Residents and long-term visa holders returning from China will be placed in quarantine for 14 days. Moreover, government officials declared the suspension of all visas for Chinese nationals effective immediately, including previously-issued visas.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 16 cases of 2019-nCoV as of January 31; all cases are individuals traveling from Wuhan (Hubei province, China), where the outbreak originated.
Low-cost Scoot Airlines announced on Friday, that flights to Harbin, Hangzhou, Shenyang, Xi'an, Nanning, Zhengzhou, Ningbo, Jinan, Nanchang, Wuxi, and Changsha will be suspended from Wednesday, February 5, to Saturday, March 28. Service to Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Haikou, Kunming, Nanjing, Qingdao, Tianjin, and Macau will be reduced within the same dates. Singapore Airlines Ltd announced on Friday that flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Xiamen, and Chongqing, some of which are operated by SilkAir, will be reduced starting Saturday, February 1. According to the airlines, passengers with reservations on the affected Scoot Airlines, Singapore Airlines, and SilkAir flights will be notified and re-accommodated onto other flights.
Further international spread of the 2019-nCoV virus is to be expected over the coming days and weeks.
The first case of 2019-nCoV was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan. Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in more than 20 countries and territories worldwide, including Australia, Canada, Cambodia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, South Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates, the US, and Vietnam. Human-to-human transmission has been confirmed in Germany, Japan, the US, and Vietnam. Virus screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On January 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the ongoing novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak is a "public health emergency of international concern."
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Potentially impacted travelers are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries and consider rebooking options, if needed, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments. Individuals are advised to take precautionary measures to reduce their risk of contracting the virus:
- Avoid all contact with animals (dead or alive); avoid eating animal products that are undercooked; avoid all markets where animals are sold
- Avoid all close contact with people displaying symptoms of the disease (e.g. difficulties breathing)
- Frequently wash hands, wear a face mask
- Individuals within China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to seek medical attention, avoid contact with other people, and wash hands regularly
- Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments
- Travelers returning from China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid spreading the disease.