As of 16 February 2020, there have been more than 70 confirmed cases. In response, the Ministry of Health raised the DORSCON level to Orange a week ago and implemented several precautionary measures. This includes postponing large-scale events, conducting daily health checks and requesting citizens to be civic-minded in public, at work and in schools.
The Scramble of the Schools
The Ministry of Education has ramped up efforts to inculcate good personal hygiene practices. Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung noted that, schools now have systems in place as compared to the SARS period. When NUS confirmed its first case involving a professor, it immediately disinfected all the areas at the School of Design and Environment (SDE), where he worked. All students who interacted with the professor are placed on a Leave of Absence (LOA). All classes in SDE will transition to e-learning as closing the school completely would cause a “big disruption” to many parents, students and educators.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has noted that the economic impact of COVID-19 has exceeded that of SARS. The tourism sector has been hit the hardest, with the visitor arrivals expected to fall by 25 to 30 per cent this year. A S$77 million package has also been announced to assist taxi and private-hire drivers as citizens are commuting less.
Singapore’s manufacturing sector is expecting supply disruptions as factories in parts of China have closed. The logistics industry has seen a decrease in business by as much as 70 per cent and the semiconductor industry has reported staff deployment issues; one-fifth are concerned about delivery delays from the suppliers. Despite these implications, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen has assured that “the Government will work with companies and unions to ensure that retrenchments are kept to a minimum, if at all.”