Ministry of Health officials confirmed 81 cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Singapore as of Tuesday, February 18. They said that most cases are stable or improving, and four patients remain in the intensive care unit. Meanwhile, authorities confirmed that 29 people have fully recovered from the infection.
The government said on Wednesday, February 19, that all individuals having traveled to mainland China in the preceding 14 days will be issued a "Stay-Home-Notice" (SHN). The SHN requires individuals to remain home at all times, minimize contact with others, and keep a record of persons the individual comes into contact with. Private businesses, including restaurants and gyms, as well as public spaces such as hospitals are conducting health screenings including temperature checks as of Wednesday. Subsequent business disruptions are possible in the near term. Further information on the outbreak and current advisories can be found on the Ministry of Health website here.
As of Wednesday, the Ministry of Health's Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level remains at "orange" (the second highest on a four-tier scale). Further international spread of COVID-19 is expected in the coming days and weeks.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (China). 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 29 countries and territories worldwide. Virus screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the COVID-19 outbreak is a "very grave threat."
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored 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.
To reduce the general risk of transmission, individuals are advised to abide the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue - throw tissue away immediately and wash hands
- If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider
- Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments
In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, individuals are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid potential spread of the disease.