SINGAPORE: Fear can do more harm than the spreading coronavirus, Singapore’s prime minister said one day after the city-state raised its alert level, prompting residents to clear out supermarket shelves of rice, noodles and toilet paper.
Singapore raised its response to “orange” - the same as during the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak and the 2009 H1N1 influenza, which indicates the virus is severe and passes easily between persons. “There is no need to panic. We are not locking down the city or confining everybody to stay at home,” Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said.
“We have ample supplies, so there is no need to stock up with instant noodles, tinned food, or toilet paper, as some people did yesterday.” The city-state has 40 coronavirus infections, with some cases not linked to travel to China, where more than 800 people died from the virus.
If cases keep growing and the fatality rate stays low, the government may encourage those with mild symptoms to rest at home instead of going to hospital, which would allow healthcare workers to focus on the most vulnerable patients, Lee said.
While the epidemic began in Wuhan in China, it has been spreading rapidly in other countries and sparking wider precautionary measures.
French health officials said on Saturday that five British nationals including a child had been diagnosed with the coronavirus in France, after staying in the same ski chalet with a person who had been in Singapore.