Wuhan Virus Outbreak -: Singapore forms task force
Preparing for the inevitable
SINGAPORE: Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said on Wednesday (Jan 22) that he will co-chair a multi-ministerial task force to deal with the "eventuality" of the Wuhan virus on Singapore's shores.
He will lead the committee with Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong.
"It is inevitable that we will see an imported case sooner or later," said Mr Gan, adding that this is because of the evolving situation and the high volume of traffic in and out of Singapore.
He was speaking to reporters after an update from the Ministry of Health (MOH) on the Wuhan virus situation. Three more suspected cases have been identified in Singapore and are undergoing testing.
The task force will have its first meeting on Thursday, Mr Gan said.
He added that it is important for the Government to understand the situation because there are "a lot" of unknowns.
"I think it's better for us to preempt some of these potential risks and do what we can to mitigate the risk," he said.
Measures introduced have to be proportional to the situation, but because the situation is evolving quickly, response has to be quick, he said.
"I think having a task force set up already will allow us to mount a very quick response, depending on the development of situation," he said.
When asked whether the Government foresees the Wuhan virus to be as serious as the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak of the early 2000s, Mr Gan said that given that many features of the new coronavirus are unknown.
"It is better for us to take precautions, and to ensure that we protect Singaporeans," he said.
Mr Wong, who also spoke to reporters, said that he will play a coordinating role among ministries like the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Manpower.
While the lead agency is MOH, the situation goes beyond one agency, and requires a whole-of-government and even whole-of-Singapore response, Mr Wong said, adding that the task force was set up in consultation with Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.