Singapore to Introduce New Cleanliness Rules Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

The deadly coronavirus, which has now spread to more than 70 countries worldwide, looks to be becoming a global pandemic, Singapore’s National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said on Friday.

With cases emerging throughout Europe and in the U.S. “it is starting to look like a global pandemic everywhere in the world and as I said it is not going to be possible to shut ourselves out,” said Wong, who is co-chair of a multiministry task force set up to deal with the virus.

“In fact, the bigger risk is importation of cases from countries where we have not had travel restrictions because the countries with travel restrictions may very well have contained the virus,” he said.

The World Health Organization has been criticized for stopping short of calling the rapidly-spreading coronavirus a pandemic, which it defines as the worldwide spread of a new disease. That designation could spur countries to roll out higher-level, emergency-grade response plans around the globe — and bring more disruptions to daily life.

Singapore’s slower virus case growth is a marked contrast to the more rapid spread in some other developed Asian economies including South Korea and Japan. That has, in turn, led to questions about whether Singapore’s aggressive containment actions could be a model for other countries to copy, or whether its unique circumstances as an advanced city-state with tight government controls mean its solutions aren’t easily repeatable.

Singapore has tallied 117 confirmed cases of the virus as of Thursday evening, while a total of 81 have fully recovered from the infection and have been discharged from hospital.

— With assistance by Melissa Cheok

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