The Wuhan Virus and What You Need to Know

Welcome back from the long Chinese New Year weekend! As you probably already know, NUS has issued a circular yesterday with a set of instructions regarding the Wuhan Virus. Its most direct impact on us is the compulsory daily temperature taking for all staff and students living in hostels and residences, which must be reported to NUS daily via NUS’ secure portal. In addition, all staff and students must declare any intention to travel overseas. These measures are implemented for the next two months.

The residential team, staff, and student committees in Tembusu are working hard to keep Tembusu safe. However, given the sudden measures, you might be wondering about the exact circumstances that led to the current situation.

Wuhan Virus Summary 

Over the Chinese New Year weekend, news of the spread of the Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia, more commonly known as the Wuhan Virus, has dampened spirits. The first report of a victim carrying the virus in Singapore was on Thursday . Since then, another six cases have been reported, bringing the total count to 7 (as of 28 January 2020, 5PM). 

What is Being Done

Singapore has responded quickly. Quarantine zones for those suspected with having the virus have been set up in hostels in NUS, NTU, and SMU, more advanced checks have been instituted at our immigration checkpoints, and the MOE has instituted a compulsory leave of absence for students and staff who have returned from the Chinese mainland on or after the 15th of January. The government has also taken steps to manage fear-mongering within Singapore by enforcing the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) on HardwareZone Forum, run by SPH Magazines. The National Development Minister, Mr Lawrence Wong, has also prepared Singaporeans for the possibility that the Wuhan Virus may be worse than SARS

Throughout Singapore, personal face masks and hand sanitizers have been in high demand, exhausting some pharmacies. Outside Singapore, the price of face masks on online retailers have been increasing. 

What You Can Do

According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a coronavirus is most commonly spread through the air via coughing and sneezing, close personal contact such as through touching or shaking hands, and touching a surface and shaking hands.

To protect yourself and others, you should observe good personal hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands, and avoid contact with people who are unwell. Similarly, if you are sick, you have a responsibility to protect others. You may do this by staying home (or in your room), wearing a mask if you must go out, avoiding close contact with others, and covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Do promptly throw the tissue in the trash and disinfect objects and surfaces around you if possible. 

Source: CNA

Additionally, we should be mindful about what we say about the virus. Coming from a society that prides ourselves with being “kiasu” or “kiasi” (afraid of losing/dying), we should not unnecessarily stoke fear. We should exercise civic responsibility by refraining from making xenophobic comments and the hoarding of hygiene products.

You can find a more detailed list of the actions you can take here.

The Wuhan Virus has just landed in Singapore and it is unclear how long it will stay. However, we should do what we can to reduce its transmission. 

Header and feature image credit: Photo by CDC on Unsplash

About the author

If Lisa Chin is not cheering at the mats outside FairPrice, you’ll probably find Lisa in her room or a lounge studying/crying in stress because c’est la vie de l’ingénieur (it sounds more romantic in French).