Singapore confirms first case of 2019-nCoV, observes two more suspected cases

Marje Pelayo   •   January 24, 2020   •   469

SINGAPORE – The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Thursday (January 23) reported the country’s first case of 2019 novel coronavirus (2019 nCov) infection.

The infected individual is a 66-year-old male Chinese national from Wuhan City who arrived in the city state with his family on January 20.

The patient is now confined at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and has been in stable condition.

The Ministry is also observing the condition of two suspected cases of 2019 nCov infection.

One is a 53-year-old female Chinese national also from Wuhan, whose preliminary test for nCov is positive.

She is now in stable condition while the Ministry waits for the result of the confirmatory tests on her case.

Health authorities in Singapore are currently conducting contact tracing on persons who have had close contacts with patients.

The Ministry has identified nine travelling companions of the 66-year-old male patient, one of whom has been warded as a suspect case, a 37-year-old Chinese male from Wuhan.

He is now in stable condition.

Meanwhile, the rest of their companions will be quarantined for 14 days.

The Ministry ramped up its precautionary measures by ordering all public hospitals in Singapore “to screen and manage suspect and confirmed cases,” and 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,” the Ministry said in a press release.

Filipinos in Singapore cope with work adjustments amid coronavirus crisis

Marje Pelayo   •   February 20, 2020

SINGAPORE – Employers in the city-state are making arrangements with their workers to reduce the risk of community transmission of the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Filipino domestic helper Analyn Baculinao said her employer has asked her to just stay at home even on her rest day so as not to contract the disease.

Household workers in Singapore are known for rest-day gatherings especially during Sundays.

Umpisa po noong naglabas ng advisory ang Ministry of Manpower tungkol sa domestic helper naging aware din po ang amo ko, kinausap niya ako na kung pwede huwag muna akong lumabas (Since the Ministry of Manpower issued an advisory regarding domestic helpers, my employer became aware of the situation and asked me if I could just stay at home),” Analyn told UNTV News.

“Huwag muna ako mag take ng day off kasi daw pag nag day off ako mag te-take ako ng bus, mag-e-mrt. Kaya super aware ang amo ko kaya sabi niya hanggang hindi okay hindi ka muna lalabas (She appealed that I should not take a day off for now because if I do, I would ride a bus, the MRT. My employer is aware (of the risk) that’s why she has asked me to stay indoors while the situation is not okay),” she added.

Jorge Araza, meanwhile, has no other choice but to extend his working hours as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Currently, he has to work 14 hours straight in a day because most of his Chinese office mates are under quarantine after coming from a vacation in mainland China.

“Lahat ng worker na galing sa China, quarantine ng 14 days bago sila pumasok sa site. Tapos ang mga staff naman, ang meeting namin sa mga consultant, online na ginaganap para maiwasan ang virus (All workers who returned from China are under 14-days quarantine that’s before they’ll be allowed to come to the site for work. Then, staff meetings with consultants are now being done online to prevent the spread of the virus),” Jorge, a mechanical and electrical supervisor, explained.

“Ang epekto sa amin, kulang po kami ng manpower kaya karamihan nag-e-extend po ang staff na nagta-trabaho. Tapos may pasok na po kami ng Sabado due to lack of manpower (The effect on us is lack of manpower so most of us in the office extend for additional hours. We are also required now to come to the office on Saturdays due to lack of manpower),” he added.

As of Wednesday (February 19), the Ministry of Health (MOH) reported three new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number infected to 84.

This makes Singapore the third country with the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection after China and Japan.

Of the 84, a total of 50 are still in hospital while the other 34 already recovered and discharged.

Most of those in the hospitals are already in stable condition with only four remain critical.

The World Health Organization (WHO) lauded Singapore’s efforts in handling cases of COVID-19.

“We are very impressed with the efforts they are making to find every case, follow up with contacts and stop transmission,” said World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“Singapore is leaving no stone unturned, testing every case of influenza-like illness and pneumonia, and so far they have not found evidence of community transmission,” he added.

Singapore’s campaign against the spread of coronavirus came strong as its leaders, led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, lead the efforts themselves.

On February 8, Prime Minister Lee posted a video on his Facebook in three languages encouraging Singaporeans to stay united and resolute, assuring them that the country is much prepared now than it was 17 years ago during the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars).

Among the measures the Singapore government has taken into place is the intensified contact tracing and monitoring; the implementation of the new ‘Stay-Home Notice’ for 14 days for Singapore residents and long-term pass holders returning from mainland China (outside of Hubei). MNP (with inputs from Annie Mancilla)

Coronavirus scare reduces NAIA passenger traffic —MIAA

Robie de Guzman   •   February 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The threat of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has reduced passenger traffic at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) said Wednesday.

MIAA general manager Ed Monreal said that from January 27 to February 17, the country’s main gateway only handled a total of 1,352,692 international passengers compared to 1,624,698 passengers in the same period in 2019.

Domestic passenger traffic at NAIA also went down to 1,406,876 from January 27 to February 17 compared with 1,456,705 in the same period last year.

“It’s a lost opportunity but at the end of the day, there’s still time to recover and hopefully, we’ll be able to recover soon,” Monreal told reporters at a Palace briefing.

The MIAA chief added that the aviation sector is now slowly recovering from its losses after the government fully lifted the travel restrictions on Taiwan, and allowed Filipino overseas workers, students and permanent residents to leave for Hong Kong and Macau.

“So ngayon po, slowly recovering dahil sa mga pagbabago at panukala dahil sa mga pag-uusap ng task force na ipinatutupad ng task force and hopefully our local tourism will recover soon,” he said.

The Philippine government earlier implemented an entry ban for passengers who traveled to China and its special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau due to the novel coronavirus outbreak in China.

It later expanded the travel ban to include Taiwan but was eventually lifted on February 14.

On Tuesday, the government announced that Filipino workers, students and permanent residents bound for Hong Kong and Macau are exempted from the outbound travel ban “subject to certain procedural formalities.”

Meanwhile, Monreal expressed hope that the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease will find a solution to the concerns raised by local airline companies on the safety protocols relating to the travel of its crew to Hong Kong and Macau.

Local carriers have earlier expressed concern on the reduced number of personnel if their crewmembers will constantly be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine period after their flights to and from Hong Kong and Macau.  

“Kung ganoon po ang proseso na mayroon pa ho silang quarantine yung mga crew, medyo mahihirapan po sila na magmount ng flights dito kahit po may temporary lifting ng mga pasahero na papunta ng Hong Kong at pabalik po,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

China warns of sustained virus impact on poultry, eggs supply amid rising death toll

UNTV News   •   February 18, 2020

China’s supply of poultry and egg products is likely to be hit in the second and third quarters as the coronavirus outbreak has had a severe impact on the industry, agriculture ministry official Yang Zhenhai told a State Council briefing on Tuesday (February 18).

The world’s second-largest poultry producer, China had been ramping up output to fill a meat shortage after the African swine fever epidemic, which began in 2018, decimated its pig herd.

Poultry prices have plunged this year and restrictions on moving livestock and extended holidays in many areas have paralyzed the supply chain. Farmers have been left with large inventories of birds and eggs even as demand plunged as restaurants and canteens stay shut.

Yang said that since the coronavirus outbreak, which has led to more than 1,800 deaths, live poultry markets have been closed, transportation of baby poultry and live poultry has been curtailed and slaughterhouses have been shut down. (Reuters)

(Production: Wang Shubing, Thomas Suen)

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