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Orange alert on coronavirus in Singapore: Employers urged to conduct regular temperature taking

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Singapore’s Ministry of Health has just raised the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level from yellow to orange.

This comes on the back of an additional three new confirmed cases with no apparent links to previous cases of travel history to China. With the addition of the three cases, Singapore currently has a total of 33 confirmed cases of the coronavirus (widely known as the Wuhan virus).

In line with the raised DORSCON level, MOH has implemented several additional measures with immediate effect.

Regular temperature taking, step up business continuity plans

For employers, a DORSCON orange means daily health checks at the workplace.

All employers should require their employees to conduct regular temperature-taking and check whether they have respiratory symptoms such as cough and runny nose.

Temperature should be taken at least twice daily, and anyone with a fever or is unwell should leave office immediately to see a doctor.

At the same time, all workplaces are urged to step up their business continuity plans, and prepare for widespread community transmission. These plans can include allowing employees to telecommute or dividing the workforce into segregated teams.

Cancel or defer non-essential large-scale events

Event organisers are urged to cancel or defer non-essential large-scale events.

For those who choose to proceed, should take all necessary precautions, including:

  • Carry out temperature screening.
  • Look out for respiratory symptoms such as cough or runny nose, and deny entry to unwell individuals.
  • Remind participants not to attend if the participants have recent travel history to mainland China, and require travel declaration, if possible.
  • Ensure that event venues are ventilated and are adequately equipped with facilities for hand washing.
  • Increase the frequency of cleaning commonly used areas.
  • Maintain a registration list of participants, if practical.

MOH has also urged individuals who are unwell, on Leave of Absence (LOA), or have recent travel history to mainland China, to not attend such events.

Closer controls of entry points into hospitals, suspension of inter-school and external activities

For hospitals, schools preschools, and social/ eldercare services, the additional measures include:

  • Temperature screening and closer controls of entry points into the hospitals.
  • Introduce measures to care for patients with pneumonia separately from other patients, to reduce risk of transmission.
  • With immediate effect, schools are to suspend inter-school and external activities till the end of the March school holidays.
  • Schools should continue to implement the enhanced measures announced on 4 February, such as classroom-based assemblies, school-based co-curricular activities in smaller groups and staggered recesses.
  • Preschools and social/ eldercare services are to limit the number of visitors to their premises.

Good hygiene and social responsibility; adopt alternative greetings instead of shaking hands

MOH has also urged individuals to play their part.

The 2019-nCoV is transmitted through contact with droplets from infected individuals, either directly or indirectly through hands that have come into contact with these droplets. The virus can also transmit through surfaces that have been contaminated with these droplets.

Even with community transmission, MOH noted that the most effective method to prevent transmission remains through good personal hygiene of regular hand washing with soap and water, and the use of hand sanitisers when soap and water are unavailable. Individuals should also avoid touching their faces unnecessarily, and especially if our hands are not clean.

Additionally, as a general good practice during this period, MOH has advised against shaking hands. Instead, alternative greetings should be adopted.

The MOH reiterated  that people who are unwell should stay at home, and wear a mask if they must go out, such as to see the doctor.

In particular, they should avoid coming into close and sustained proximity with others. Workers who come across customers who are unwell, should immediately advise customers to leave and go see a doctor.

Photo / StockUnlimited

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