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Asia Minute: Singapore Boosts Alert Level for Coronavirus

AP Photo/Andy Wong, File

When it comes to the coronavirus, China remains the country with the vast majority of cases. But health officials in one Southeast Asian nation have just raised their alert level.

Singapore has boosted its public health alert level from yellow to orange — indicating a disease that is “severe and spreads easily, but . . . has not spread widely” in the country. The Ministry of Health says it took this step on Friday because “there are now a few local cases without any links to previous cases or travel history to China.”

The last time the government took this step was more than ten years ago, during an outbreak of the H1N1 virus — also known as a type of “swine flu.” The alert level is now at the same point it was during the SARS outbreak, which peaked in 2003.

SARS was also a type of coronavirus, and it killed more than 30 people in Singapore.

The boost in the alert led to long lines at a number of grocery stores. The Trade Minister took to Facebook to ask people not to hoard items – writing that “this will create undue panic and is unhelpful to the situation at hand.”

Businesses have been asked to cancel or postpone large-scale events. Although, the Singapore Airshow is still scheduled to get underway tomorrow with a scaled back presence.

That has brought attention down to the level of large business meetings.

Medical authorities are monitoring people who attended a corporate gathering last month at the Grand Hyatt Singapore. At least four of them contracted the coronavirus — with two returning home to South Korea and another to Malaysia.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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